Lexie Mulvihill Using Inspiration of Her Late Brother In Record Breaking Season

lexie mulvihill jake mulvihill
Photo Courtesy: Lexie Mulvihill

After her brother, Jake, lost his battle with cancer earlier this year, Lexie Mulvihill found motivation by sharing his story. When she broke the Florida state high school record in the 50 free in November, Lexie knew Jake was watching over her and that he will always be close in spirit.

When thinking about her brother, Jake, one memory in particular stands out for Lexie Mulvihill: their family trip to Hawaii.

In September 2019, the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Jake’s wish of vacationing in Hawaii. For one memorable week, the Mulvihills swam with sharks, visited Pearl Harbor, and enjoyed time together in paradise away from the reality back home in Florida.

Lexie Mulvihill Jake Mulvihill hawaii family vacation

Photo Courtesy: Lexie Mulvihill

“I know Jake was in so much pain, but there wasn’t a second he wasn’t smiling,” said Lexie. “It was amazing seeing him happy, and the family time made everything so worth it.”

Jake had been diagnosed with a benign brain tumor when he was seven years old in 2012. Despite having certain limitations, he was healthy enough to participate in normal childhood activities. The two siblings swam together on Team Velocity before Lexie joined Tampa Elite Aquatics.

Fast-forward seven years, and Jake was diagnosed with brain cancer in April 2019 after the tumor suddenly tripled in size. He had his first brain surgery two weeks later, followed by seven more surgeries, weekly chemotherapy sessions, and 25 rounds of radiation.

Lexie Mulvihill Jake Mulvihill hospital

Photo Courtesy: Lexie Mulvihill

As Jake’s condition started to worsen, Lexie had a gut feeling something was wrong after her coach pulled her out of practice one night. When the doctor told her family it was time to say their goodbyes, she laid in the hospital bed next to her brother for 18 hours.

On March 19, 2020, Jake lost his battle to cancer.

“It was hard as a family to figure out how to process it all,” said Lexie, who’s two years older than Jake. “We were best friends. It was really hard because if something went wrong, I would go to him first, but I don’t have that anymore.”

Not wanting anyone else to experience their pain, the Mulvihills were eager to help other children fighting pediatric cancer. Instead of being sent flowers or food after Jake’s passing, the family created a donation page on the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation (NPCF) website for friends and relatives to donate in his honor.

“My instant thought afterwards was that Jake wouldn’t want me to be sad,” Lexie said. “Kids shouldn’t be dying of cancer, and I’m trying to use his story as motivation to make the world a better place.”

jake Mulvihill

Photo Courtesy: Lexie Mulvihill

She knew she had to do something, so that’s exactly what she did.

Over the summer, Lexie created the Jake’s Fight Cancer Club at George Steinbrenner High School in Lutz, Florida, to raise money to support NPCF. As the club’s founder and president, her school has already raised over $5,000 from different fundraisers. Several other high schools have followed her lead and started their own clubs, and Lexie gave a speech about Jake’s story at a NPCF gala.

Because Jake swam, Lexie found it hard to get back in the water after his passing. Knowing she only had one year left at home and that her brother was her biggest supporter, she decided to hone in on her training.

That decision paid off.

At the Florida 4A State Championships on November 7, Lexie blasted a time of 22.30 in the 50 free during prelims to tie the state record held by Christina Swindle, a two-time national high school swimmer of the year who swam collegiately at Auburn. Mulvihill, who also won the 100 fly, then lowered the 18-year-old state mark to a blistering 22.22 during finals.

“It was validation that I could still do this,” Lexie said on her state-record performance. “It was a breath of fresh air, and it was refreshing knowing that all my hard work was paying off.”

The Mulvihills, who said Jake had turned into a butterfly, now feel his presence every time they see one. Lexie even wears a temporary tattoo of a butterfly when she races to serve as a constant reminder that her best friend and biggest cheerleader is never too far away.

Lexie Mulvihill medal champion

Photo Courtesy: Lexie Mulvihill

And for all 22.22 seconds it took Lexie to break the impressive state record that had stood for as long as she has been alive, she knew her brother was right there with her.

“I wasn’t feeling good before my race, and I was sitting down behind the blocks to try to shake out my legs,” Lexie said. “Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a butterfly. It was my sign that it was going to be a good race and that Jake was watching over me.”

With a state record the cherry on top of her high school career, Lexie is now eagerly awaiting her next journey: starting college at Auburn University in 2021.

“I just got this feeling of this is where I want to be and that this is my home,” she said, reminiscing on her recruiting trip. “I want to be on a team where it’s a family, and I know I’ll have that when I go to Auburn.”

Lexie, who officially committed to the Tigers last month, knew Auburn was the perfect fit for her because of its positive atmosphere – something that has been extremely important to her this past year.

“My brother was always such a happy and loving person, and seeing how positive he was resonated with me,” she said. “I realized that being negative isn’t going to get me anywhere in life, and I have to be as positive as possible if I want to be successful with the things that I do.”

After everything she has gone through, Lexie’s positive outlook demonstrates a maturity and resilience beyond her years. Even though she’s the older sister, Lexie has always looked up to her younger brother and finds joy in telling others about his upbeat, loving personality.

“It’s comforting knowing that I’m able to share his story, and I enjoy doing it,” she said. “It reminds me of how amazing he is and how lucky I am to have him as my brother.”

Now every time she sees a butterfly floating through the air, she will know it’s Jake smiling down from heaven, reminding her of how lucky he was to have Lexie as his sister.

lexie mulvihill jake mulvihill siblings brother sister hospital cancer

Photo Courtesy: Lexie Mulvhill

3 comments

  1. avatar
    JOHN MULVIHILL

    Not only is Alexis a fantastic swimmer Alexis is an even nicer person. I am very proud to call her my grandaughter.

  2. Such a touching story❤️❤️❤️

  3. avatar
    Dr Elizabeth Mulvihill

    I am so proud of Lexie as a person, as a swimmer, and as my grandniece.
    As I am of Jake…his spirit and his attitude and his contribution to advance medical science.
    Many thanks for the touching story.
    Love,
    Great Aunt Liz