Cavaliers partner with NF Forward and Children’s Tumor Foundation, dedicate the season to Nick Gilbert and others impacted

Team launches Bow Tie Campaign to raise awareness and funds towards NF and NF research.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers, in partnership with NF Forward and the Children’s Tumor Foundation, today announced that they will dedicate the 2022-23 season to Nick Gilbert, son of Chairman Dan Gilbert and wife Jennifer Gilbert, to support him and the millions of others worldwide affected by neurofibromatosis (NF).

NF is a genetic disorder with no present cure that causes tumors to grow on nerve pathways anywhere in the body. It impacts 1 in every 3,000 people across all populations throughout the world, including all races, ethnicities, and genders. NF tumors can lead to blindness, deafness, bone abnormalities, disabling pain, and cancer.

Nick is known for his infectious smile, positive attitude, and his signature bow ties. He became the Cavaliers’ good luck charm when he first represented the team during the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery at age 14 and coined the phrase “what’s not to like?” after winning the No. 1 overall pick, which eventually became Kyrie Irving.

Now 26, the Cavaliers’ lucky charm has grown up – but his battles with NF remain. Nick has spent the last year facing some of his toughest challenges, requiring multiple surgeries that left him hospitalized for more than a month. Fortunately, like everything Nick does his fight is strong and he is doing well.

As Nick continues his ongoing fight, the Cavaliers family, alongside NF Forward and the Children’s Tumor Foundation, has launched the Bow Tie campaign to raise awareness and funds for NF and NF research. Multiple designated games throughout the season will be dedicated to fundraising for NF Forward and the Children’s Tumor Foundation. The Bow Tie symbolizes the strength and courage that Nick and all those impacted by the disease display each and every day.

"We want to give a special thanks to Cleveland fans for always embracing Nick and showing him support and love over the years,” said Cleveland Cavaliers Chairman Dan Gilbert. “This season, we’re using the Cavs platform to raise awareness of NF and the millions who are impacted by this disease. While there’s currently no cure, we hope to help support cutting-edge research through our efforts. So, as you cheer on the Cavs this season, we ask that you keep Nick and all those fighting NF in your hearts."

NF Forward was established by Dan and Jennifer Gilbert in 2017 to eradicate NF by funding groundbreaking, cutting-edge NF research. NF Forward strives to raise awareness about NF and to engage the general population in supporting efforts that will lead to a cure.

Founded in 1978, the Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF) is a global leader in the fight against all forms of NF. Its mission of driving research, expanding knowledge, and advancing care for the NF community accelerates the development of treatments and therapies that will improve the lives of NF patients and their families.

CTF’s patient-focused research initiatives have tripled the number of NF clinical trials, including the first FDA-approved drug for a specific type of NF, and its nationwide Clinic Network significantly advances care standards for a disease that too often remains misunderstood. With its tens of thousands of supporters and advocates fighting to End NF, the Children’s Tumor Foundation is at the forefront of progress in NF.

The Bow Tie emblem will be a highly visible part of the Cavaliers’ identity this season. It will appear on the player warm-up jackets, as well as on the lapels of broadcasters, Cavaliers coaches, and front-office members. It will also be uniquely integrated into the Cavaliers player introductions and featured on signage and other in-venue assets inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. In addition, storytelling around Nick’s fight will be woven into Cavaliers social media, the game presentation on Humongotron, as well as the TV broadcasts on Bally Sports Ohio throughout the season, to shine a light on NF.

Featured image credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Evan Dammarell is a sports journalist covering all things Cleveland right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can also email him at He can also be found three to five times a week on Locked On Cavs, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network.

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