I never met you, but I am braver because of you.
I first started following you years ago. I thought it was incredible that there was a professional runner right here in the Twin Cities, training in the same places I did, even running the same events. I remember being at the fieldhouse for my track practice and seeing you training there. I wanted to say hi, but didn’t want to interrupt your workout—you were so freaking fast!
When you shared that you had been diagnosed with cancer in your liver, I learned more about your story. That you became a professional runner in spite of your earlier fights with cancer amazed me.
When my team and I cheered you on at the Twin Cities 1 Mile, it was extra special for us to watch you run. Our coach had been diagnosed with kidney cancer, and it meant so much to us that you were fighting hard and living your life to the fullest despite having cancer for the fourth time in eight years. I believed in the future I’d be cheering for you in the Olympics, where you would show not just the Twin Cities but the whole world that a cancer diagnosis is not the end.
But cancer is merciless. When I heard that you had been moved to comfort care and would lose this race against time, my heart ached for you and your stolen future. You were so strong, so inspirational, so tough. It just seems wholly unfair that you’d never get to have the career and the life you deserved.
Friends of mine who knew you and your husband have been sharing stories and prayers on social media; the common denominator is that their lives have all been beautifully touched by you. The Twin Cities running community would not be the same without you. Your legacy will live on here, and throughout the world, forever.
Even though I never met you I feel so lucky to have trained on the same track as you did, and to have run alongside the Mississippi River where you ran. I remember reading about you running again after chemotherapy and I was amazed that you were able to persevere.
Honestly, I can’t say it better than you did: “Being brave, for me, means not giving up on the things that make me feel alive.”
The Brave Like Gabe Foundation raises money for cancer research, but also inspires us all to be more like you, working tirelessly for the world we want to live in. Your story is being shared worldwide by runners and non runners alike, touching all the people whose lives have been changed by cancer. And you did show the world that a cancer diagnosis is not the end. You set an example for those who are scared and confused by their own diagnosis and showed them they can continue to live their dreams, continue to live their life, and do the things that make them happy.
With much love and gratitude,