Minneapolis declares Wednesday as 'Gabe Grunewald Day' after runner's death
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The former Golden Gophers runner who died after a valiant battle with cancer is now being honored by the City of Minneapolis.
Mayor Jacob Frey declared Wednesday as Gabe Grunewald Day.
"Gabe was a Minneapolis resident who consistently made our city proud and was emblematic of what we collectively aspire to achieve," wrote Frey in the proclamation. "All of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the entire running community hold Gabe and her family in our hearts today and every day."
Tuesday, Grunewald's husband announced that the 32-year-old runner had passed away.
"I always felt like the Robin to your Batman and I know I will never be able to fill this gaping hole in my heart or fill the shoes you have left behind," Justin Grunewald wrote in an online post.
Grunewald continued to compete after being diagnosed with the cancer of the salivary glands in 2009. Running with the University of Minnesota, she won a national championship and finished fourth in the Olympic trials in 2012. She also finished first in the 2014 U.S. indoor championship.
Olympian and friend Carrie Tollefson says she knew cancer would take Gabe, but it was still a shock. “We are still kind of floored… She looked beautiful, she didn't look sick. She was so strong, it's hard for us to think she's gone."
Gabe had adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare cancer that sees only 1,200 new cases in the U.S. each year. There are no FDA-approved treatments but her foundation hopes to change that for people after her.
Even HGTV's Chip and Joanna Gaines joined the fight after a chance meeting in Central Park when Chip asked her and her husband how to train for a marathon which he eventually did with her coaching.
“And to run into Chip and Joanna Gaines, and to have her story change so many lives, that's what Gabe did,” Tollefson told FOX 9. “You met her and you never forgot her.”
Gabriele's husband has documented their journey and the last, very difficult days on Instagram. Her miracle comeback, when she shouted "not today,” and her last breaths. She lived as she raced and she lived on hope that will now save others.
“I'm sincerely doing the best I can with a situation I would never want to be in,” Gabe told us in an interview months before her death. “I feel like I have an obligation to do my best and be part of the solution."