Chip Gaines Vows to Personally Match Donations Made in Terminally Ill Runner Gabe Grunewald's Name
Over the weekend, Gabe’s husband Justin Grunewald revealed on Instagram that his wife’s 10-year battle with salivary gland and thyroid cancer had become so severe that she was readmitted to the ICU upon experiencing septic shock.
By Sunday, Justin said she had been moved home to for hospice care.
In light of the professional distance runner’s cancer battle, Chip vowed to support “those who are fighting for just one more day” by creating a #ChipInChallenge and matching any donations that are made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and Gabe’s foundation, Brave Like Gabe, by midnight on Wednesday.
“More than 10 years ago, my friend @gigrunewald was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer. I understand that Gabe is not a patient at @StJude, but right now, she is fighting for her life,” the HGTV star, 44, wrote on Instagram Tuesday.
“Cancer is ugly and it is mean and it doesn’t fight fair. This has gotten extremely personal,” he continued, before announcing his plans to match donations in the #ChipInChallenge.
“That is 3x the power of your generosity in the fight against cancer,” he explained. “Together, we’re going to fight for those who are fighting for just one more day. This is for those precious kids at St. Jude.. we are pulling for you!”
Finishing his note, Chip sweetly gave his friend a shout out. “And to my beautiful friend Gabe.. we love you and we are here for you every step of the way.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Fixer Upper star had nearly hit his $500,000 goal — raising over $436,000 within two hours of posting on Instagram.
This isn’t the only way that Chip has shown his support for Gabe and Justin during this difficult time.
After learning that Gabe had been readmitted to the ICU, Chip shared a heartfelt message on Twitter on behalf of himself and his wife Joanna, writing “To @gg_runs. We love you. You changed us forever, and til we meet again, we promise to be #BraveLikeGabe.”
He also wrote a short but sweet comment on Justin’s Instagram post after he announced that his wife was being moved to comfort care.
“Love you @gigrunewald!! All I ever want is to be #braveLikeGabe. -til we meet again,” wrote Chip.
Ahead of Gabe’s return home, Joanna and Chip surprised the couple by adding a few redecorating touches to their house.
“‘There are only two ways to live your life. One as though nothing is a miracle, the other as though everything is a miracle,’” Justin wrote. “@gigrunewald chose the latter. We got her home to our comfy couch and she is resting peacefully and breathing easy surrounded by her best friends and family.”
“She made it home in time to see some extra special finishes @chipgaines, @joannagaines, and @brockwayne put on our new condo to make it feel like home,” he revealed. “For that, I have no words. #bravelikegabe #runningonhope #keeprunningonhope”
Chip first met Gabe in New York City, while on tour for his book CapitalGaines. In a personal essay published in the summer issue of his Joanna’s magazine, Magnolia Journal, Chip explained that he saw Gabe running through Central Park with Justin.
“I’d always been intrigued by runners, especially ones like this couple, who made it look so easy,” he wrote. “In that moment, I thought about my own list of dreams — including the part of me that’s always wondered if I could ever run 26.2 miles (aka a marathon).”
He struck up a conversation with the couple, asking them “how long it would take for an out-of-shape guy like me to train for a marathon.” The couple was happy to chat and Gabe told Chip he could be a qualified runner in about four months.
Chip then learned about Gabe’s condition, and began speaking to her about the foundation she started a foundation called Brave Like Gabe, whose mission is to support rare cancer research and “empower cancer survivors through physical activity.”
He explained that meeting Gabe “felt like a call to action.” So he went back home to Waco and started planning for the Silo District Marathon, now in its second year.
However, he didn’t want to just plan the marathon. He wanted to run in it, despite being “out of shape” — and Gabe agreed to help coach him.
“I hadn’t worked out in about a decade, and I was easily 20 pounds overweight,” Chip wrote. “That’s not really the ideal starting place for a budding marathoner. But what I did know felt bigger than all of the very good reasons I wasn’t qualified.”
“I knew I wanted to be a part of the work Gabe was doing, so I could either get off the couch and jump in with both feet or sit there comfortably and play spectator to this opportunity as it passed me by,” he continued.
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This year, Chip said a combined 6,000 people ran in the marathon, half-marathon and 5k races, and they raised over $300,000 for both a local cancer treatment center and the Brave Like Gabe foundation.
“We host this race because I believe when we do hard things together, we can accomplish the impossible!” he wrote in a later blog post on Magnolia.com. “Whether it’s to push our bodies further than we ever have before, or raise a boatload of money to help find a cure for this thief called cancer.”