There’s nothing more devastating than a parent losing his child. When Gil Schaenzle’s 21-year-old daughter died of neuroendocrine cancer last year, Gil was brokenhearted than she could imagine. But the 61-year old mom decided to let go of her misery and pursued to honor her daughter in a significant way by running 50 national parks.
Gil said that the greatest run of her life was a pact that she made with her daughter, Anna before she died.
“I had brought her home from chemo one day and she couldn’t stop vomiting and was miserably sick. I was snuggling her and thought it might give her something to look forward to if I shared my crazy idea with her. So I told her about it and asked if she would like to drive the sag vehicle for me when she was feeling better. She said ‘No.’ I was just a little hurt by the turndown, and asked her why? She replied that she was going to run them all with me. There was so much resolve in her voice, that I didn’t doubt that she would,” Gil recalled.
Gil started her 50-national park run on November 10, 2017, National NET Cancer Awareness Day in Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Her final run happened on August 4 of this year at Denver’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Aside from fulfilling her and her daughter’s bucket list, she also aimed at raising awareness about the killer disease. And although she fulfilled her epic journey with strength and pride, Gil admitted that she still grieves over her daughter’s passing.
“I know people want so badly to know I’m going to be all better now [and] healed by the journey, but that hasn’t happened. I still miss her with every single breath. I still cry every day because I will never hold her again. When you lose a child, every ounce of strength you thought you had, vaporizes.”