BEF Announces Collaboration with Johnson & Johnson for First of its Kind Tru Heroes Nursing Program

$1,000,000 program funded by Johnson & Johnson will be the first to help nurses specialize in cystic fibrosis education

New York May 23, 2016– The Boomer Esiason Foundation (BEF) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) today announced the launch of the Johnson & Johnson TRU Heroes Cystic Fibrosis Nursing Program, an unprecedented educational empowerment program for the nursing community. As there is no existing certification for nurses who want to specialize in the treatment of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), Johnson & Johnson TRU Heroes was developed to inspire the community to recruit, accredit and educate its nurses about the challenging journey of patients with CF. In addition to its core educational initiatives, the TRU Heroes program will publicly recognize those nurses already paving the way for better CF treatment and understanding, and will include national and local scholarships, CF seminars, educational grants and nursing achievement awards.   

“Nurses that care for CF patients during protracted hospital stays serve as more than medical professionals – they play the role of confidant, friend and caretaker. Nurses and CF patients alike would benefit from advanced preparation about CF from their employers and academic institutions,” said Boomer Esiason, Founder of the BEF, whose son, Gunnar, has battled CF since 1993. “Together, BEF and Johnson & Johnson are teaming up to empower our tremendous nursing community with the educational tools and resources they need.”

The program, funded by a $1-million grant from Johnson & Johnson, will celebrate and encourage nurses that Teach, Respect, and Understand (TRU) patients in great need of outstanding care. Initiatives will include: seminars led by CF patients to better educate nurses about the disease; scholarships not only for nurses’ ongoing CF education, but also to help people with CF pursue careers in nursing; and an Outstanding Service Award to recognize nurses who have made a profound impact on the lives of those battling CF across the country.

Johnson & Johnson is no newcomer to supporting nursing and nurse education. In 2002, Johnson & Johnson launched the “Campaign for Nursing’s Future” to address a large shortage of nursing professionals that challenged U.S. healthcare. The campaign is a multi-year, $50 million national initiative designed to enhance the image of the nursing profession, recruit new nurses and nurse faculty and help retain nurses currently in the profession. While still maintaining the original focus, the Campaign has evolved over the years to include an additional emphasis on solving new issues such as the need for better access to healthcare, desire to expand the quantity and quality of the nursing workforce and need for more capacity within nursing schools. The Campaign also partners with Penn Nursing and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Future of Nursing Scholars program, and has contributed $1,000,000 over five years to develop a new generation of nurse leaders to transform America’s health care system.

“Johnson & Johnson has worked side by side with nurses since the founding of our company 130 years ago and has long understood the extraordinary role that the nursing community plays in this evolving healthcare environment,” said Alex Gorsky, Chairman and CEO, Johnson & Johnson. “Nurses make a significant difference in the best outcome for patients and families, and we’re proud to partner with BEF to help give nurses the special training needed to serve the unique needs of patients with Cystic Fibrosis. “


Through social media awareness campaigns, educational programs and scholarships, the BEF aims to reach as many as 3,000 nurses, and estimates it will work closely with 200-500 nurses in the first year of the program. The BEF plans to roll out additional educational accreditation programs in partnership with medical schools as the TRU Heroes program matures, scaling the reach of its awareness program significantly to as many as 10,000 nurses, and potentially working closely with 1,000-1,500 nurses in year two.   

About Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis is a chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections. The mucus also obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.

About the Boomer Esiason Foundation 

Throughout his career in professional sports and the media, Boomer Esiason has been a committed and active participant in many charitable causes, but he began focusing on cystic fibrosis in 1993 when his son, Gunnar, was diagnosed with the disease. That same year, Esiason and his wife, Cheryl, launched the Boomer Esiason Foundation, a dynamic partnership of leaders in the medical and business communities joining with a committed core of volunteers to heighten awareness, education and quality of life for those affected by cystic fibrosis, while providing financial support to research aimed at finding a cure. For more information, go to



Stephen Dennis

Bliss Integrated Communication