At just 8 years young, Jane Fiemeyer's attitude on life had an impact on her friends, family and community that people are still talking about today.
So much so that now in the 10th year of the Princess Warrior 5K, an event formed in her memory and by her request, friends and family of her continue to try to be more Jane-like. Ten years is a milestone, but it also marks the year that Jane would have been a senior at Wadena-Deer Creek High School. Jane's memory lives on despite the event now surpassing the number of years Jane was with us.
Jane understood she had leukemia and even came to accept that she was going to die, her mom Jil Fiemeyer explained. As difficult as that may seem, Jane wanted to use what time she had left to do what she could to help other kids going through the same situation. Her goal of raising money to fight childhood cancer was realized by the W-DC National Honor Society members 10 years ago.
"I remember her sitting in the hospital," Fiemeyer said. "She knew before I knew that she was passing away. She wanted her legacy to continue in a way that brought good to the world."
Jane's first fundraiser involved making duct tape wallets.
In a blog post, Brooke Umland, one of those NHS organizers in 2012, shared about her memories of helping to create that first event with classmates Evan VanErp, Macy Hartman, and Halley Maas.
"To be honest, deciding how it would look was pretty easy, mainly because Jane had already thought everything out," Umland wrote. "Our project turned into us trying carrying out Jane’s wishes and raising money to support finding a cure for childhood cancer."
The group, with the help of many more volunteers, formed an event in less than three weeks that was ready for Jane's 9th birthday on September 27. The event included pies at the end, which were Jane's wish, even though she didn't like pie. It raised almost $7,000.
"This is a community that is dedicated to remembering Jane," Umland wrote. "Jane left a lasting impression on so many, myself included. The Princess Warrior Walk is still one of my proudest accomplishments to this day."
Another student who's kept working for Jane is her classmate, Lauren Gravelle. Lauren continues the "Be Jane-like" project where she sells T-shirts, which will be worn this week at Wadena-Deer Creek Schools. It's not uncommon for a sea of orange to show up each year at this time, thanks to someone remembering Jane.
Jil Fiemeyer, Jane's mom, has been looking back at these 10 years and is overcome with many emotions, joy being one of them as she thinks about the work that others have been doing to make the Princess Warrior event successful after all these years.
Fiemeyer said there are over 50 volunteers now working on the event to prepare for Saturday, Sept. 25. In the week before the event, 341 shirts were sold. It's not uncommon for the event to bring more than 500 registrations.
Those registering for the event help raise money, which is then used for a scholarship as well as grants for families that are dealing with childhood cancer. Fiemeyer said it helps families pay for heating bills, mortgages and more. It frees up money needed to spend extra time with their loved ones.
Looking around at all the things people are doing in memory of Jane gives her mother great pride.
"Jane hasn't been forgotten," Fiemeyer said as she recalled the kindness she's been shown by the community. She spoke about all the people that have taken the time to remember Jane, including many of her classmates, busy with their senior year planning. She said it's those moments of remembrance that mean a lot to those grieving a loss of someone.
"For anyone who doesn't know even what to do for someone, just remembering someone else's loved one, when someone says, 'I thought of Jane today,' those moments are really cool," Fiemeyer said.
She wonders with peace what her daughter's senior year would have been like. The way she sees her classmates still showing love and kindness to her, lead her to believe she would have had a great year, surrounded by great people.
If you go
WHAT: 10th annual Princess Warrior 5K
WHEN: Registration starts at 8:30 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 25. The 5K starts at 10 a.m. Family events follow.
WHERE: Tapley Park in Wadena.
HOW: Same day registration is available at the park or register ahead online at https://bit.ly/2021PW5KRegistration. Anyone can take part in the fun, food and games at the park. You can even take part in the event virtually.
WHY: By participating in the Princess Warrior event you will help raise awareness of childhood cancer and support the Princess Warrior Foundation where proceeds are used to honor kids, award grants to families with children in treatment, distribute care packages to cancer families, give away scholarships and to support LLS (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) and CureSearch.