Gabriele "Gabe" Grunewald, the successful professional runner, died last night at age 32. The athlete had fought a rare form of cancer for more than a decade and inspired fans in the running community with her dedication to continuing to compete during treatment. While her career as a middle-distance runner earned her recognition in the running community, the design world became familiar with Gabe through her friendship with Fixer Upper's Chip and Joanna Gaines.
Just last night, Chip posted a touching tribute to Gabe on his Instagram, kicking off the #ChipInChallenge, where he encouraged his followers to donate to St. Jude's to fight rare cancers like Gabe's, pledging to match the funds raised that evening. "More than 10 years ago, my friend @gigrunewald was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer," Chip wrote. "Right now, she is fighting for her life. Cancer is ugly and it is mean, and it doesn’t fight fair. This has gotten extremely personal."
By this morning, the #ChipInChallenge, with its tagline #BraveLikeGabe, had raised more than $940,000. The Gainses also enlisted celebrity friends like J.Lo and A Rod, Drew Barrymore, and Kacey Musgraves to contribute.
Late last night, Gabe's husband Justin announced that his wife had passed away a few hours earlier. "At 7:52, I said 'I can’t wait until I get to see you again' to my hero, my best friend, my inspiration, my wife," he wrote on Instagram. "@gigrunewald 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. Your family loves you dearly as do your friends."
Justin also acknowledged the #ChipInChallenge, saying "When @chipgaines made the final push in his #chipinchallenge I could feel [Gabe's] happiness building and could also see that this made [her] ready to head up to heaven. Chip, thanks for helping her to go up so peacefully with no suffering."
Gabe has undoubtedly left a legacy with her inspiring fight. To contribute funds for others fighting rare cancers, chip in to the #ChipInChallenge here.
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