When I started the Runners Doing Good Instagram account, I wanted to tell some stories of people overcoming obstacles, choosing to live a healthier life, or achieving something incredible…all with the idea that some runner somewhere might be inspired.
It has been tremendously worthwhile and rewarding, especially when the person and their story somehow find you. It’s an absolute blessing to have that level of inspiration pop up in your life. It wasn’t all that long after setting up the Runners Doing Good instagram account and with just a couple dozen followers or so that a new follower, @gigrunewald, with a blue check mark followed the page. This got my attention and I checked out this person’s profile and it read, “pro runner, rare cancer patient/survivor/advocate, lover of life, Minnesotan, founder of @bravelikegabe.” There’s obviously a lot to unfold there so I started with @bravelikegabe to find out what it was about and I’d assume there’d be more on her and the more I learned about it and her, the more I felt compelled to learn even more and here’s what I uncovered.
Gabe Grunewald is a force of nature. She has an incredible will and radiates positivity despite the fact that she’s fought cancer four times over the last decade. Embarrassingly, I have to admit that I’d never heard of her before she followed the account. I also learned another thing. She also absolutely does not need my teeny, tiny, little blog to promote her charity as she has been featured in Sports Illustrated, Runners World, Self Magazine, coached Chip Gaines, has a 25 minute documentary produced by Brooks Running, and a growing charity that bears her name. She has run some of the fastest 1500 meter times in American history. And yet, there’s this kindness about her that is as unmistakable as the drive that propelled this small town Minnesota girl to greatness. I truly am honored that she agreed to allow me to do this because she could have simply chosen not to participate at all but she’s allowing her story to be told again and I’m sure it will inspire many.
She was born about 3 hours northwest of Minneapolis, MN in a town of less than 3,000, and due to that, she didn’t get a ton of attention from Division I colleges. She most likely could have had her choice of any small school she wanted but she wanted to test herself at the DI level so she walked on at the University of Minnesota and prospered. Gabe was a part of a several Big 10 Championship teams and was the national runner-up in the 1500 meters at the 2010 Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships. She was also an All-American that year despite being diagnosed with Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma in 2009. Further career highlights included a USA Championship in the 3000 meters in 2014 and her 1500 meter time of 4:01:48 made her the 11th fastest runner in United States history.
She would also fight through recurrences of ACC in 2016 and 2017, including an August ’16 surgery that would remove approximately 50% of her liver. In comparison to many cancers, ACC is diagnosed so many times less that research on it is limited due to the lack of patients to study. Brave Like Gabe was founded with the goal of “raising awareness for these diseases, the research funding disparities, and other challenges that prevent these cancers from having effective treatment options.” They truly are working hard to bring some of these cancers out of the darkness so that those diagnosed with these diseases can have hope where there may not have been any before.
In a world full of negativity, I am in simply in awe of her optimism, positivity, and strength and I would highly encourage you to learn more about her. I guarantee you’ll be inspired by her as I was. I’ve become a big fan of hers and it is why I would like to ask the Runners Doing Good followers to come together.
No one wants to feel as helpless as she must have felt when she learned there weren’t any approved treatments for ACC when she was initially diagnosed. Let’s contribute to Brave Like Gabe and join her in the fight to find treatments for hers as well as those with other forms of rare cancers as well.
Please see the link below to contribute if you feel compelled. There will be a box to donate in someone’s honor. Make sure to make the First Name: Runners and Last Name: Doing Good so that Brave Like Gabe, and Gabe, herself, know that we’re behind her.
No donation is too little. She’s out there fighting cancer and doing all she can to raise money and awareness for others with similar diseases. If she can do all of that, we can help her mission.
Go to the below link to make and effort to help bring Brave Like Gabe and Gabe Grunewald a bit closer to their goals!
Expect to hear more about Gabe over the month of April as Brave Like Gabe will be our featured charity this month. Thank you to Gabe for her time and example of what it means to be strong in the face of adversity. You are a true inspiration.