Truckee’s Gene Upshaw memorial fund surpasses $1 million mark | SierraSun.com

Truckee’s Gene Upshaw memorial fund surpasses $1 million mark

Special to the Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. — As of last week, the Gene Upshaw Memorial Fund had raised more than $1 million for cancer research, patient care and mild traumatic brain injury research and innovation.

Upshaw, an NFL Hall of Famer and former Oakland Raider, died of pancreatic cancer in 2008 at Tahoe Forest Hospital. Upshaw's widow, Terri Upshaw (who owns a second home in Truckee), and sons Justin and Daniel established the fund in 2009 because of the exceptional care he received at the hospital.

"I think Gene would be really happy about the work," Terri said. "He would be proud of the research for both cancer and mTBI and the programs supporting families battling cancer."

Since 2009, nearly half of the more than $1 million raised, $463,544, has been directed specifically for traumatic brain injury research with the Tahoe Institute for Rural Health Research. Most of the money is raised through the Gene Upshaw Memorial Golf Classic conducted in July.

Funds have also supported the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center, pancreatic cancer research, Tahoe Forest Hospital Innovations Fund and Hospice programs.

Led by founding director Thomas D. Hobday, the Tahoe Institute for Rural Health Research began work on developing a concussion-testing device four years ago. Hobday and his team of researchers are determined to replace the standard subjective computerized testing programs such as ImPACT with an objective mechanism for determining when a concussion has occurred and when it has healed.

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Research has determined that traumatic brain injuries typically occur when athletes come back to the field before the brain has healed and suffer subsequent brain trauma.

The researchers envision the instrument as a low cost, compact, portable unit that will be able to determine injury severity within 10 minutes. To further evaluate their testing device and gather more data, the institute has been testing student-athletes at Truckee High School and Feather River College, as well as Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl and Northstar ski teams, during their sports seasons.

The institute is now collecting post recovery data from patients injured during the 2015-16 winter and sports seasons.

The institute's TBI research started five years ago following a conference of neurologists, doctors and scientists from Tahoe Forest Hospital and UC Davis.

At the conference, Nolan Harrison, the NFLPA's senior director of former players' services, challenged the doctors and scientists to discover an objective way to determine when concussions occur and when the brain has healed afterward.

In addition to honoring Upshaw's legacy through the fund, the family remains fervent about humanitarianism, providing quality medical treatment and care not only for patients but their families, sustainability, medical technology advancement as well as funding for medical research in critical areas such as traumatic brain injury.

This year, the eighth annual Gene Upshaw Memorial Golf Classic is scheduled for July 17-18 at Schaffer's Mill Golf & Lake Club, and several NFL Hall of Famers, former Major League Baseball players and other sports celebrities are expected to attend.

The annual tournament invites corporate sponsors and individuals looking to be aligned with concussion and cancer research. A limited number of sponsorships are still available. Each provides celebrity accessibility, company exposure and client entertainment.

For information, contact the Tahoe Forest Health System Foundation at 530-582-6329, or email Martha Simon at msimon@tfhd.com.

This article was provided on behalf of the Gene Upshaw Memorial Fund. For information about the golf tournament, visit GU63.org. For information on the Schaffer's Mill community and golf club, visit schaffersmill.com.