Grace Bunke, a 14 year old Paralympic-hopeful, died on March 25th after a lengthy battle with bone cancer. Bunke succumbed to osteosarcoma, a very aggressive bone cancer, the day before her 15th birthday. She had been receiving treatment at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for the cancer for about 4 years.
Bunke started competing with US Paralympics Swimming in May of 2016, when she swam at the Cincinnati Para-Swimming Open. US Paralympics Swimming put out a press release, saying in part “Bunke was a beloved teammate for U.S. Paralympics Swimming. Her brave, strong fight against cancer did not go unnoticed by teammates, friends and family. Several teammates would honor Bunke’s fight against cancer by writing GRACE on their hands”. The full press release from US Paralympics Swimming can be found here.
Grace’s mom, Vicki, had a caringbridge.org page set up for Grace back in 2014, and was posting to it frequently this past month when Grace’s health took a turn for the worse. Her mom posted a very moving entry on the day Grace died. The central theme of the post can be summed up with this excerpt: “Because today, love and joy and peace, but mostly GRACE won. Death did not. Nor will it ever. Through our tears, we will continue to remind one another what Grace’s incredibly beautiful life taught each of us…that love and faith and hope have no finish line. Nor will it ever”.
The link to the caringbridge.org page can be found here if you wish to read the full post, as well as the other entries. In that entry, Grace’s mom also mentions that one of Grace’s final wishes was for any donations in her honor to be made to 2018 Swim Across America fundraising page, which can be found here. Grace began raising money through SAA in September of 2017, and all the funds go to the hospital where she received her treatment, the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.