Donor Stories

Our work would not be possible without the brain donations we have received from over 1,500 families who have so graciously contributed to our research. We are very grateful for every brain we receive and each donation has gotten us closer to achieving our goals, especially identifying CTE in living persons.

We are also grateful for those who were interested in brain donation but were unable to complete the process due to technical reasons. We thank you for spreading awareness of CTE and for your willingness to share your loved ones’ stories with us.

Visit our Memorial Wall to find a full list of donors, whose families have consented to publicly acknowledge their contribution to our research.

Below, please learn more about the people who have made our research possible.

Cameron Adamson,

Cameron Adamson was a successful high school wrestler and Corporal in the Marines, and was posthumously promoted to Sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserves.

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Barrett Callaghan,

Barrett Callaghan was an athlete and avid sports fan and spent time playing football, baseball, golf, and basketball.

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Mario Circo, 1993-2018

Mario Circo, a beloved firefighter, is remembered for his kindness, intelligence, and wit. During his life, he experienced symptoms consistent with the early stages of suspected CTE.

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James “Jimmy” Fryatt, 1940-2020

James “Jimmy” Fryatt was an English football player who also played and coached in the United States. After noticing changes to his personality and lifestyle during the approximately 8 years before he died, his family decided to donate his brain to the UNITE Brain Bank at the BU CTE Center for answers after his passing at the age of 79.

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John Gaal, Jr., 1992-2017

John Gaal, Jr. is a former high school football and soccer player and is remembered by those who knew him as kind-hearted, funny, and the type of person to put others before himself.

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María Pánfila Garay, 1945-2015

María Pánfila Garay was a loving mother who enjoyed music and the outdoors. After noticing changes to her personality, thinking, and behavior after years of suffering from domestic violence, her eldest daughter decided to donate her brain to the BU CTE Center for answers after her passing at age 69.

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Patrick Grange, 1982-2012

Patrick Grange was well-known for his incredible athletic abilities and his kindness, bravery, and optimism. At 28, he was diagnosed with ALS and after his death his family donated his brain to the Boston University CTE Center where he was diagnosed with CTE Stage II/IV, making him the first American former soccer player to be diagnosed with CTE.

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John Grimsley, 1962-2008

John Grimsley was the first brain donation received at the CSTE Brain Bank, now known as the UNITE Brain Bank, and was the first football player to be diagnosed with CTE by Dr. Ann McKee at Boston University. 

Many people knew John Grimsley as a former linebacker for the Houston Oilers and Miami Dolphins, but those closest to him knew him as a hard worker, a lover of the outdoors, and a loving father, husband, friend, and teammate.

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Evan Hansen, 1997-2018

Evan Hansen played a variety of sports, was the captain of his football team, and is remembered by those who knew him as easy-going, hard-working, and happy.

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Ashlyn Lee, 2003-2020

Ashlyn Lee was a high school soccer player who was known for her kind and bright spirit.

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Tom McHale, 1963-2008

Former NFL player Tom McHale was one of the earliest brain donations received at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) Brain Bank, now known as the UNITE Brain Bank at the Boston University CTE Center. Beyond football, Mr. McHale was a restauranteur, a family man, and a good friend that many in his life said left them better for knowing him.

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Drew Mulligan, 1993-2018

Drew Mulligan was a successful hockey player who is remembered for being funny, happy, smart, protective, and having a larger-than-life personality. 

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Dennis Williams, 1965-2022

Dennis Williams played football for over 20 years and was known for being a fierce competitor with passion and drive.

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Ed Wolf, 1939-2021

Ed Wolf was an athlete, a serviceman, and above all, a family man.

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