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Georgia Mom Swims across America to Fulfill 14-Year-Old Daughter’s Dying Wish

Vicki Bunke was a mother who radiated unwavering pride. Grace Bunke, her lovely daughter, was outgoing, driven, and unquestionably determined no matter what life threw at her.


The Georgian child, who enjoyed being active, began running when she was a little child. The daring youngster excelled in sports, but when she was 11 her life took a tragic turn.

Grace’s knee was in excruciating pain, but she didn’t let it get her down. She made an effort to keep running while maintaining a smile.

Grace’s family became concerned after she finished a track meet with tears running down her face. It was a sad blow for Grace when it was discovered that the discomfort in her knee was a sign of bone cancer.


Grace fought illness for three years, enduring many surgeries and 18 rounds of chemotherapy. The 14-year-old started swimming in order to stay active and healthy while she got ready to run once more.

Despite her prognosis, Grace maintained her optimism and showed great grit. She continued to have lofty aspirations for everything she would do both on and off the field.

Vicki said that she continued to pursue her passions even as her daughter underwent cancer treatments. She had to “put limitations” on what was safe to do even though she didn’t want to restrict her daughter’s freedom.

Grace fought illness for three years, enduring many surgeries and 18 rounds of chemotherapy. The 14-year-old started swimming to stay strong and healthy as she trained to run again, and she fell in love with the activity and got passionate about it very quickly.


When Grace was in the water, she found fresh spiritual and emotional power, and her mother remembered Grace’s unwavering confidence that she “will get through this.”

The adolescent was courageous throughout her sickness and showed no signs of fear. When she wasn’t in the hospital, she went to school, and she even signed up for the Swim Across America (SAA) program.

She was glad to support the initiative because it aims to raise money to battle cancer. Grace battled valiantly, but tragically she died one day before turning 15 and was never able to celebrate.

Grace urged her mother to act on her behalf prior to her passing away in 2018 in this way. She asked her mother to represent her at an upcoming SAA function since she couldn’t go.


Vicki, who disliked having her head underwater and suffered from claustrophobia, concurred. She continued to swim in several competitions and organized a cross-country swim expedition to remember Grace.

The mother, in the midst of her anguish, found solace in swimming for her darling child. She revealed:

I promised to participate in 14 open water charity swims with Swim Across America to commemorate Grace’s 14 years on this planet.

Vicki thanks her daughter for motivating her to venture outside of her comfort zone and attempt a difficult task. The mother offered a unique tidbit about the swimming competitions and expressed her pride in contributing to a worthwhile cause.


Vicki was convinced that Grace was keeping an eye on her and intervening in minute ways. Mother’s words were:

“We believe that heaven is supporting us. Heaven is the best support system there is.”

Swimming helped Vicki recover even though she is constantly missing her child. She treasures the experiences she shared with Grace and makes a commitment to carry on living purposefully and passionately, just as her daughter would have.

For a different touching account of a kind brother who warmly asked his sister to the prom, click here. His choice was timely and extremely important to his sister.

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