Both impacted by cancer, two Gopher athletes are teaming up to raise money for cancer research, with a goal of bringing Minnesota and Wisconsin fans together before a huge Big Ten football game at the end of the month.
The fundraiser is headed by Casey O'Brien, a four-time cancer survivor who currently plays for the Gopher football team, with support from Justin Grunewald, a former Gopher runner who lost his wife Gabe Grunewald to cancer earlier this year.
Gabe Grunewald carved out a successful professional running career despite being diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma while she ran for the Gophers in 2009.
"In honor of Gabe and Casey, Justin is supporting osteosarcoma research at the University of Minnesota. For every dollar raised, the Brave Like Gabe Foundation will match up to $100,000," the crowdfunding campaign explains.
WCCO reports that the fundraiser was launched now in an effort to bring border rivals Minnesota and Wisconsin together before the two respective football programs go to battle in a game Nov. 30 at TCF Bank Stadium that could decide the winner of the Big Ten West Division.
"No matter your allegiance on the field, please join Justin in supporting Casey’s “Team One Four” by making a donation to osteosarcoma research," the fundraiser says.
As of Thursday morning, the campaign had raised more than $10,000.
Gabe Grunewald died June 11 at the age of 32. Her prosperous running career included finishing second in the 1,500m at the 2010 NCAA championships and narrowly missing out on the 2012 Olympic team.
She later created the Brave Like Gabe Foundation, raising money and awareness for cancer treatments.
O'Brien's dream was to play college football for his home state Gophers, and that dream came true when he got on the field as a placeholder in Minnesota's victory over Rutgers on Oct. 19.