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Abby Anderson and Gabe Grunewald legacies live on in Perham cross country invite

While Anderson and Grunewald have passed away, their work with the Brave Like Gabe foundation is still positively impacting the world today. On the morning of Saturday, Aug. 28, Perham hosted a Brave Like Gabe cross country invite at Arvig Park.

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Six of the 119 JV and Varsity boys bolt their first lap of the 5000 meter race at Arvig Park in Perham during the second Annual Brave Like Gabe Invite on the morning of Saturday, Aug. 28. (Elizabeth Vierkant/Focus)

The legacies of Gabe Grunewald and Abby Anderson continue to live on both in and outside of the Perham community. Grunewald, an Olympic hopeful, and Anderson, her sister, were both Perham High School track stars. After Grunewald was diagnosed with a rare salivary gland cancer, she founded Brave Like Gabe , an organization with a mission to support rare cancer research and encourage people to continue "running on hope."

Anderson, like many others, was often inspired by her sister. "I grew up watching my sister run (at the University of Minnesota) and have always dreamed of being a Gopher girl. She has been a huge inspiration," Anderson had said in an interview with the Perham Focus in 2010 .

Grunewald died due to complications of cancer in June 2019. Anderson, who was also heavily involved with the organization, died after she was struck by a vehicle in early August of this year.

"Abby's family is pretty special," Jeff Morris, who coached Anderson and Grunewald when they were young and still coaches Perham cross country today, said after Anderson's death . "They're strong people… (Her parents, Kim and Laura) are hopeful that their daughters are together now; that's the biggest hope for the family… Abby was a light, and so many people knew that."

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Off to a fast start, a large crowd of JV and Varsity boys run past the Perham water tower during 5000 meter race at Arvig Park in Perham during the second Annual Brave Like Gabe Invite on the morning of Saturday, Aug. 28. (Elizabeth Vierkant/Focus)

While Anderson and Grunewald have passed away, their work with the Brave Like Gabe foundation is still positively impacting the world. On the morning of Saturday, Aug. 28, Perham hosted a Brave Like Gabe cross country invite at Arvig Park. On top of Perham, there were 18 other participating teams and crowds of more than 200 runners.

To honor the memories of Grunewald and Anderson, who are particularly close to the community of Perham's heart, team warmups were 14 minutes and five seconds long, since 1405 was Grunewald's favorite number. Afterward, teams posted pictures on social media with the hashtags #BraveLikeGabe, #1405 and #RunningOnHope.

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Three of the 81 JV and Varsity girls run their second lap of the 5000 meter race at Arvig Park in Perham during the second Annual Brave Like Gabe Invite on the morning of Saturday, Aug. 28. (Elizabeth Vierkant/Focus)

Brave Like Gabe T-shirts were also sold at the meet for $15 each. All money from these sales went toward the Brave Like Gabe foundation, funding the research of treatments for rare cancers.

After the last varsity race, people were encouraged to participate in a cooldown run in a loop through the woods to honor Anderson's memory. After this, awards for the races were presented.

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Jeff Morris said Perham boys and girls had a strong opener. Overall, JV and varsity girls placed third. With two boy varsity runners gone the day of this invite, they came in eighth. JV boys placed seventh.

The top 20 finishers on the girls team were:

  • Quincy Anderson (11th)
  • Gracie Morris (13th)
  • Leelou Novotny (19th)

The boys' team had one top 20 finisher:

  • Caden Doll (16th)

Perham Junior High girls won the 19 team race with 31 points, which was 35 points ahead of the second team. Perham Junior High boys placed third, just 11 points away from first.

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Two JV and Varsity boys sprint through the finish line after running the 5000 meter race at Arvig Park in Perham during the second Annual Brave Like Gabe Invite on the morning of Saturday, Aug. 28. (Elizabeth Vierkant/Focus)

For the full results from this invitational, visit gsetiming.com/results/cc_rslts/cc_rslts.asp?hide_team=n&hide_ind=n&sport=Cross-Country .

The next race Perham cross country will be participating is the St. Olaf Showcase in Northfield on Thursday, Sept. 2.

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To honor Anderson and Grunewald's memories, donations toward Brave Like Gabe can be made at bravelikegabe.org/donate .

Elizabeth (she/her), 23, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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