Running Community Remembers Gabriele Grunewald During her Final Moments
The Perham-Native and University of Minnesota Alum turned professional runner was place on end-of-life care on Sunday
PERHAM, Minn. — Gabe Grunewald was never one to shy away when things got difficult.
“She is just the kind of person that always wanted to face the biggest challenges,” Grunewald’s former high school coach, Jeff Morris, said. “If I was going to lay out a bunch of things for her to do, she was going to always choose the hardest one.”
It wasn’t until 2009, as a student-athlete at the University of Minnesota, that Grunewald would come face to face with her biggest obstacle yet: A diagnosis of Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma.
Still, she persisted and refused to give up the sport she adored.
“She ran at the championships while going through chemo and she didn’t make excuses, she didn’t feel sorry for herself or anything like that,” Grunewald’s former Team USA teammate, Meghan Peyton said. “She wanted to show people that you could still get out and give your best and not give up on something you love.”
Her love for running and determination to fight this disease inspired her to start the Brave Like Gabe foundation, a non-profit designed to support rare cancer research and empower all cancer survivors through physical activity.
“She started the Brave Like Gabe races and it meant so much to her,” says Morris. “You could tell that the running was still important to her, but there was something definitely greater there that meant more to her and she knew that she was going to make an impact.”
And what an impact she has made.
After her fourth bout with the disease proved too much to handle, Grunewald’s family made the difficult decision to place Gabe in end-of-life care. As her loved ones and the rest of the world prepare to say goodbye, Gabe’s legacy of perseverance and strength remains a source of inspiration for runners everywhere.
“I remember when she ran in the USA Championships after she had the cancer the third time,” Morris recalls. “She had the big scar and the girls on the track prayed with her that’s a moment where I think the world saw what this was all about and how she was inspiring people.”