Mom swimming across America to raise funds in honor of daughter who died of cancer

Posted at 11:12 AM, Aug 16, 2021

A mother is swimming across America in honor of her 14-year-old daughter who died of cancer.

Vicki Bunke is participating in 14 open water charity swims for Swim Across America this summer to raise money for pediatric cancer research.

Vicki lost her daughter, Grace, to osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer, in 2018.

Grace was diagnosed at the age of 11 and battled the cancer for nearly four years. During that time, the teen underwent three lung operations and a partial leg amputation, where the lower half of her leg was reattached backward.

While recuperating, Grace took up swimming and ended up earning a national cap for the U.S. Paralympic team in 2017.

That same year, she took to open water swimming and participated in the Swim Across America - Atlanta open water charity swim near her home.

Grace Bunke_5.jpg
Grace Bunke

After Grace passed away, Vicki decided to continue what her daughter started, and she created Team Amazing Grace to raise money for cancer research through swimming.

“It’s usually parents who leave legacies for our children,” said Vicki. “Grace left a legacy for us. She was the #1 fundraiser for pediatric research with Swim Across America before she passed away, and if she were here today, she would be swimming to fight this awful disease for others. It’s Grace’s spirit that brings us all together for this cause.”

Swimming alongside Vicki is Grace’s oncologist, Dr. Karen Wasilewski-Masker, as well other friends, and family members.

This past Sunday, Vicki and Team Amazing Grace raised more than $4,000 at the Charleston-Kiawah open water swim event in South Carolina.

As of Monday, the team has raised nearly $88,000, about 76% of their $115,000 goal.

Next up, Vicki and the team will swim in Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, Seattle, Baltimore, Dallas, and finish in Atlanta on Oct. 2.