Passages: Paralympic Hopeful Grace Bunke Passes Away After Fight With Cancer

Para swimmer Grace Bunke passed away this Sunday after a battle with an aggressive form of bone cancer. Bunke was just 14-years old and had been a member of U.S. Paralympics Swimming since May 2016, and last September competed in a Swim Across America event to raise money for the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the hospital where Grace has received treatment the last four year.

In a post on her CaringBridge page, her mother shared that part of Grace’s last wishes were for people to make donations in her honor to her 2018 Swim Across America fundraising page, which you find here.

Below is a full press release from U.S. Paralympics Swimming:

The U.S. Paralympics Swimming community mourns the loss of Grace Bunke, who passed away on Sunday to cancer at the age of 14. She had been courageously battling osteosarcoma, an aggressive type of bone cancer.

Bunke, who would have celebrated her 15th birthday on Monday, began competing with U.S. Paralympics Swimming at the Cincinnati Para-Swimming Open in May 2016. She was then internationally classified at the Can-Am in Gatineau, Quebec in July 2016. A Paralympic hopeful, Bunke received a national team cap with her name on it at the Can-Am Open in December.

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.

“Today is a very sad day for the entire Paralympic community,” said Julie Dussliere, vice president of U.S. Paralympics. “Grace was an incredible friend, teammate and young woman who had a bright future ahead of her. Grace faced cancer with wisdom beyond her years, and she touched the lives of everyone in our program who crossed her path.”

For more information on the arrangements to honor Bunke’s life, please visit her CaringBridge page.

17 Comments

17 comments

  1. avatar
    FMLIII

    A very sad day as well for the entire swimming community.

  2. Pat Kennedy

    Prayers for her family and friends.

  3. Donna Knight Nelson

    My heart breaks for her family – sending thoughts and prayers from TX

  4. Jenny Rush

    Condolence to her family, friends, fellow swimmers and coaches. Our thoughts are with you from Aquatic Rush in Australia. 💞

  5. Koyel Narayan

    RIP .sweetie! God did you choose such a nice human! Prayers 4 d family!

  6. Tracy Swift

    We were blessed to see a tribute to this beautiful child last month at GA Tech.. During the state age group championship meet, it was so moving. An entire pool filled with people holding red umbrellas to bring awareness of childhood cancers. What an amazing child.. prayers for her family.

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      Grace, you were our fellow swimmer and friend. Now you are our hero, and inspiration. We will hold you in our hearts forever and remember you as Amazing Grace. ~Your SwimAtlanta family

Author: James Sica

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James Sica is the Men and Women's Assistant Coach at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been an assistant coach at CMU in Pittsburgh, PA (2015-2017), a volunteer assistant coach with the Harvard women’s program (2014-2015) and an assistant with the Ithaca College men's program (2012-2014).

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