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Communities Come Together to Run in Celebration of Gabriele Grunewald’s Life

Gabriele Grunewald was honored through remembrance runs across the country over the weekend and at her memorial service on Monday in the track star's hometown of Minneapolis.

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The family and friends of Gabriele Grunewald celebrated the 32-year-old runner’s life on Monday in her hometown of Minneapolis with a memorial service, burial, and 1.405-mile run—and finally with a toast to her life at a local brewery she and her husband, Justin Grunewald, enjoyed together.

Grunewald died on Tuesday in her home, 10 years after a rare cancer diagnosis of adenoid cystic carcinoma, for which there is no cure.

During her lifetime, the 2014 national champion for the indoor 3,000 meters, became just as well-known for her track speed as for her inspiration and advocacy for rare cancer awareness and fundraising, through a nonprofit organization she founded, the Brave Like Gabe Foundation.

On Monday, hundreds of fellow runners, friends, fans, and family attended her memorial service at Basilica of St. Mary. After the internment at Washburn-McReavy Hillside Chapel, the group gathered on a path nearby to run or walk 1.405 miles together—Grunewald’s favorite number was 1405.

The run was led by Chip and Joanna Gaines, the former stars of HGTV’s show Fixer Upper. Grunewald met the couple during a chance encounter in Central Park while she was receiving treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Since then, the two families formed a friendship that included training support for Chip’s first marathon and fundraising efforts for Brave Like Gabe through the Silo District Marathon event in Waco, Texas, an event created by the Gaines family.

A few hours before Grunewald died on Tuesday, Chip Gaines made a matching challenge that yielded a $512,000 donation to Brave Like Gabe. When Justin posted that Grunewald died at 7:52 p.m. that day, he wrote to his wife that when Gaines “made the final push in his #ChipInChallenge I could feel happiness building and could also see that this made you ready to head up to heaven. Chip, thanks for helping her to go up so peacefully with no suffering.”

After the run on Monday, friends continued the celebration at the Insight Brewery, where they posted several Instagram stories of lively karaoke. Notably, Grunewald’s younger sister, Abby, and their close group of friends sang Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” which was Grunewald’s favorite karaoke song.

In the days leading up to Monday’s memorials, several communities gathered for local runs to honor Grunewald. The Bowerman Track Club organized a 5K on Friday at a track in Portland, Oregon; the Runners of New York City podcast also hosted a 5K in Central Park, and a group came together in Flagstaff, Arizona, to run 14:05 in remembrance.

“[Running] is a unique community to be part of and we are there for each other in life and death,” said Stephanie Bruce, pro marathoner who led the Flagstaff run, “and I am just really thankful to be a part of it. I am grateful to all the people who came out to celebrate Gabe’s life.”

To make a donation to the Brave Like Gabe Foundation or find out more about its mission, visit the website.