Grace Bunke was a bright shining light the moment she entered this world. This 14-year-old inspired so many while facing death and her mom is honoring her dying wish after she's gone.
Her mom says they were constantly telling Grace she was going too fast, too far, and too high. Because Grace Bunke never did anything halfway. She was a natural athlete with a pure love for life.
But her world spun upside down when she was diagnosed with a type of bone cancer at the age of 11.
14-Year-Old Grace Bunke Bravely Battles Cancer
Despite going through surgeries to amputate a part of her leg and 18 rounds of cancer treatment, Grace Bunke didn't let it get her down. She smiled, laughed, and found moments of joy through it all.
Even when her dreams of running were taken away from her-she found a new love-swimming.
“We never had to encourage her to stay engaged in life,” her mom Vicki said. “Even during her cancer treatments and through her illness, we were still the ones who had to set limits with her… we didn’t want to hold her back, but you know, just being in terms of what was safe for her to do.”
Even then, despite the bleak outlook on her life, she found a new passion in the water.
“There’s something different about being in the water versus running around a track. So I think that it really kind of gave her spiritual kind of emotional strength,” Vicki said. “She just had this attitude [of] we’re going to get through this and I can’t wait to get back.”
Three years into her cancer journey, Grace realized she wasn't going to beat the odds. During her last, precious moments on this earth, she asked her mom to make her a promise. Grace Bunke asked her mom to keep swimming even after Grace's death.
Mom Honors Daughter’s Dying Wish
One day before Grace's 15th birthday she asked her mom Vicki to compete in a race on her behalf. Because Grace knew she was too sick to swim. Her mother of course said yes and Vicki hasn't stopped since. Even after Grace Bunke passed away in 2018.
Now Vicki is on a mission to keep her promise to her precious baby girl and keep her memory alive. The 52-year-old mom has committed to swim 14 races around the country in honor of Grace!
“I was not a swimmer before this all happened. I knew how to swim and grew up with a pool. But I’m a little bit claustrophobic and I don’t like putting my face in the water… I credit Grace for inspiring me and giving me the courage to do something that’s really difficult," she said.
Through all of the competitions that she has participated in so far, Vicki has raised $80,000. She knows her daughter is cheering her on from heaven, encouraging her to run-well, swim–the race set before her.
“We feel like heaven is cheering us on,” she explains. “You can’t have a better cheering section than heaven. Grace had the best laugh, the best smile, so I think she’s smiling… and not only cheering me on, but she’s showing up at each of the events in small ways," Vicki added.
We praise Vicki for her warrior spirit and for God to continue to comfort her mama heart as Grace's legacy continues to make an impact for others suffering the same cancer as she did.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us," Hebrews 12:1
WATCH: 14-Year-Old Grace Bunke Inspires With How She Faces Death
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Featured Image Credit: Facebook/Kate Crowley Parker