AKTIV Against Cancer, the organization co-founded by legendary runner Grete Waitz and Helle Aanesen, today announced that their fifth annual awards luncheon generated in excess of $100,000 in donations, the largest sum ever for the event. This year’s awards lunch was held at the New York Athletic Club on Wednesday November 14, and had author, television host, entrepreneur and philanthropist Chip Gaines as the recipient of the AKTIV Against Cancer Award. Gaines accepted the award in memory of the late elite runner Gabe Grunewald, who passed away earlier this year and had become close with Gaines and his wife Joanna. This year’s event was also hosted by motivational speaker, former American professional soccer player, winner of Survivor: Africa Ethan Zohn. Zohn is also a two-time cancer survivor and supporter of the organization.
“It’s bittersweet, for sure, but I was honored and humbled to receive this award. Gabe Grunewald made a lasting impression on everyone who knew her and I have no doubt her story will only continue to serve as an inspiration for others,” Gaines said. “I am determined to continue fighting this fight in her honor and doing my part to help further advance rare cancer research.”
Gaines is the co-founder of Magnolia, a Waco, Texas-based company he started with Joanna in 2003. In 2018, Chip launched Magnolia’s inaugural Silo District Marathon following a chance meeting with past AKTIV Against Cancer Inspiration Award recipient Grunewald. Since then, Chip has helped raise more than $1 million for the Brave Like Gabe Foundation – it is because of these philanthropic endeavors that AKTIV Against Cancer chose to honor Chip Gaines as the recipient of this year’s award.
In addition to the award to Gaines, AKTIV Against Cancer also honored two supporters for their work. Cancer survivor and advocate Aubrey Barr, who has run over 30 marathons with Fred’s Team, including the New York City Marathon and the Boston Marathon. Additionally, longtime Fred’s Team coach Jeff Rochford has trained and coached thousands of Fred’s Team runners across finish lines. Fred’s Team, named in honor of New York City Marathon co-founder Fred Lebow, is Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s running program, which has raised more than $85 million for cancer research since 1995.
The luncheon was supported by Discovery, adidas and the May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation. Previous honorees of this award include Dr. Jordan Metzl & Kikkan Randall (2018), The Rudin Family & the late Gabriel Grunewald (2017), Meb Keflezighi (2016), and Mary Wittenberg (2015).
For more information about AKTIV Against Cancer please visit www.aktivagainstcancer.org.
Cover Image: (L to R: Helle Aanesen, Chip Gaines, Justin Grunewald, Ethan Zohn)