Running has always helped challenge my notion of how much change I can make in my life amidst obstacles and doubt. I can thank my sister, Gabriele, for this. Just a girl from a small cabin town in northern Minnesota with big dreams, Gabe ran her heart out in high school and empowered herself to walk on to the University of Minnesota track and cross country teams. But she wasn’t just there to walk on; Gabe dared to delve deeper to find out just how remarkable she is. Turns out, she is nothing short of amazing. She proved herself worthy of recognition not only by running fast, but doing so despite being diagnosed with a rare and incurable cancer (Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma). The day before a big meet, Gabe got the call that the lump on her neck was cancer, instead of giving into her diagnosis, Gabe ran a personal best in the 1500m the next day. While battling cancer numerous times over the next ten years with surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, and experimental drug therapies, Gabe went on to earn All-American honors, finish runner-up at the NCAA championships, become a USA Indoor Track & Field national champion, compete at the Olympic trials twice, and run the twelfth fastest 1500 meter time in US history.
Gabe never let cancer stop her or have the final say. She fought gracefully and bravely for every day, every opportunity, and every person affected by rare cancer. She taught us that rare cancers are actually not that rare at all; rare cancers as a group are the leading cause of cancer deaths in the US and are historically underfunded according to The Rare Cancer Research Foundation. With a lack of funding and research on rare cancer, Gabe, in the midst of facing her own mortality, took it upon herself to create change and start her very own foundation that gives 100% of it’s proceeds to rare cancer research. It is called the Brave Like Gabe Foundation.
Gabe fought not only to fund rare cancer research through the foundation she created, but to inspire others to live bravely despite a rare cancer diagnosis. She didn’t know it at the time, but little by little, in every moment she chose to fight and listen to hope over fear she was making the biggest impact of all; inspiring other cancer fighters to keep living their lives and stay active despite having every reason not to. Unfortunately, Gabe’s long battle with cancer ended just this past June, poignantly emphasizing the need for more research and more effective treatment options for all rare cancers.
I invite everyone to follow along with my NYC Marathon journey! Please consider sponsoring my miles $0.1-1/mile in my trianing or donate whatever you can/wish! I appreciate it all! Gabe was my biggest cheerleader during my first marathon last year in Minneapolis/St. Paul and I am so excited to feel her with me in my second one in one of our favorite cities - NYC! We created some of my fondest memories in the big apple where we would frequent for Gabe’s treatments at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Despite being there because of her rare cancer, we always had a blast and made the most out of it each time. I would like to call this effort Team Gabby and run on hope in honor of my wonderful and beautiful sister, Gabriele Ivy Grunewald. Every mile is and always will be for Gabe.