5 for Good: Pediatric nurse braves boxing ring to fight cancer
Six days a week, sometimes twice a day, Jillian Gundersheim trains at Everybody Fights in South Boston. Looking like a professional, she first stepped into the boxing ring a few months ago as a novice.
“(It’s) definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done mentally and physically, but I’ve learned my body will do anything my head tells it to,” Gundersheim said.
It was Gundersheim’s heart that led her to the gym. She is a pediatric nurse at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Jimmy Fund Clinic.
She said her patients, including 4-year-old Jane Gunzelmann, are her inspiration.
“Jane is the best. She has gone through some crazy crazy stuff,” Gundersheim said. “Her treatment has been extremely rigorous.”
The rigors of Gundersheim’s training are in preparation for a boxing bout through Boston-based Haymakers for Hope. The nonprofit has raised millions of dollars to fight cancer. Julie Kelly is one of the organization’s founders.
“In eight years, we have raised $9.4 million. We will definitely break 10 (million) by the end of 2018,” Kelly said.
Kelly and co-founder Andrew Myerson are both boxers. They both have an intimate connection to the cause.
“I had Hodgkins lymphoma when I was 22 (and) Andrew lost a friend to cancer when he was in high school,” Kelly said.
Jane Gunzelmann was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in February of last year. Her mother said she’s not surprised at the lengths Gundersheim is going to, to show how much she cares.
“We just loved her immediately,” Gunzelmann said. “She’s like family.”
Trainer Kevin Cobbs said he has not gone easy on her. He described Gundersheim’s workouts.
“A lot of running, a lot of stairs, a lot of being hit,” Cobbs said. “She’s been doing great.”
On fight night, Gunzelmann will be Gundersheim’s ring girl.
“I’m confident in my abilities.” Gundersheim said. “If Jane’s there, I gotta win, right?”
Gundersheim’s bout will be one of 16 at Haymakers for Hope’s Belles of the Brawl event on Oct. 10.
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