Tim Gruensfelder ’14, just started his junior year at St. Louis University, where he is double majoring in accounting and entrepreneurship. He returned to the campus early, in time to resume his role as a campus ambassador welcoming incoming freshmen.
Among his many college activities, one of the roles he cherishes most is being part of a service organization at SLU known as Oriflamme, which in French means a banner, symbol or idea inspiring devotion or courage. In Tim’s case, it fits.
He was four years old when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The tumor eventually moved to his spine and resulted in his move to a wheelchair in fifth grade. In July, he underwent his 14th surgery to remove tumor growth in his spine.
“The pain is a lot better,” Tim says. “In fact, I haven’t had any pain since getting back to school.”
His cancer diagnosis hasn’t held him back, as evidenced by his success at SLU, where he received a presidential scholarship.
One of the organizations he credits with supporting him and his family is the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, whose sole mission is to raise money for this deadly disease affecting children.
“We’ve had incredible support from our family, friends, and neighbors,” says Denise Gruensfelder, Tim’s mother, “and from the St. Raymond School community and Saint Viator. They have gone out of their way to support us.”
The Gruensfelder family is immersed in the latest event, the Starry Night 8.5K walk/run, to raise more money and awareness. The unusual distance of the event reflects the 28,000 steps it takes to complete the course, in honor of the 28,000 children living with a brain tumor each year in this country.
Registration opens at 4 p.m. before the 5:30 p.m. start on Sunday, Sept. 18 at Arlington Park Racecourse. The highlight of the event, the lantern lighting ceremony, shines a light on individual children diagnosed with brain cancer and those who are being remembered.
Now in its third year, Starry Night organizers include Saint Viator parents Mary Ann Kouvelis, of Mount Prospect; Julie Zahrebelski of Hoffman Estates and Denise Gruensfelder.
“Tim has inspired this community to create this new fundraising event,” says Bob McNamara, campaign chairman for the Illinois chapter of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, based in Park Ridge. “Friends of his family and from his schools, have rallied around our organization and allowed us to continue our quest to find a cure.”
McNamara maintains that the Asheville, North Carolina-based foundation is the leading funder of pediatric brain tumor research, outside of the federal government, and support is building.
“We’re really starting to change the conversation,” McNamara said, “all across the country.”
To donate or to join our Saint Viator Team at Starry night, visit our team page.