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Can this cartoon gorilla and dog fight brain tumors?

How two app developers created a game to raise funds for brain tumor research.


Lynn Barba lived out loud. She was outspoken, well dressed, a lover of animated movies, wind-up toys, and she was unafraid to let people know what she thought.

“You knew where you stood with her at all times,” said her son, Nick. “She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.”

Out of her numerous passions; her heart’s true joy was reserved for family.

“Family meant everything to her,” Nick said.

Lynnwithfamandfriends

At the Philly Race for Hope

His girlfriend and co-creator of the Banana’s Split app, Laurie Zerumsky, agreed. “She loved her sons and husband.”

When she was diagnosed in the summer of 2011 with a grade III astrocytoma, she underwent surgery and began aggressive treatments, and her family rallied and supported her, even going with her to the 2011 Race for Hope in Philadelphia where Lynn’s family was left in her dust.

“She actually power-walked and went far ahead of us,” Nick said.

Throughout her eighteen months of battling her malignant tumor with radiation, a cyber-knife and surgery, Nick and Laurie remained by Lynn’s side.

“I think the family always wanted the best for her,” Nick said. “We did whatever we could just to fight with her. I think we realized it was a fight for all of us and that we all had to chip in and do our best to help her through it.”tumblr_nkl6i64dyA1tia17uo1_1280

“Family and friends really came together and did whatever we had to do to make her comfortable, to make her happy.” Laurie said. “Because of the 61 years she was on this earth, that is what she did for everyone else.”

What made Lynn happy, in addition to her family, were animated movies (Disney, chief among them) and her dogs. When Laurie and Nick were developing the characters for their apps, they were inspired by Lynn’s pitbull, Gypsy, and their own dog, Sofia.

Laurie thinks the personal touch was necessary. “We based the game off of the personalities of an animal that Lynn loved so much and an animal we know she absolutely would have loved and spoiled.”

tumblr_nmju0wiVZR1tia17uo1_1280The game focuses on Banana, a large purple gorilla, who rides a Chihuahua, named Peel, through city streets, leaping over obstacles. It’s the type of game Lynn would have enjoyed. The game was developed as means to give back to the brain tumor community by raising funds for brain tumor research. Available on the Apple Store, the app has gone “Grey for May” as a way to honor Lynn while fighting back against brain tumors.

“Our goal is to raise $25,000,” Laurie said, “ and all the proceeds in May are going to the National Brain Tumor Society.”

 “We created this game to give back the National Brain Tumor Society,” Nick said, “because my mom didn’t have as many treatment options, and they’re working with scientists and lawmakers to pave the way for new researchers and treatments.”

“We wanted to be able to contribute to the fight,” Laurie said.

Get the iPhone app here.

  • Kathy Zerumsky

    This enjoyable app was created by my wonderful daughter, Laurie and her also wonderful boyfriend, Nick. As invested as they are about this game, they are even more passionate and vested in helping those afflicted with brain tumors. Nick’s Mom, Lynn whom I only got to know for a short time unfortunately, left quite a mark on this world. She loved my daugher like her own and who could ask for more. She is the drive behind these two young people to make their mark, not just because of this game but what this game could do to help others. Don’t split from this statement just download Banana’s Split now and do something for someone else. You can be part of this wonderful venture too.

    • Laurie Zerumsky

      oh mommy. thank you. 🙂

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