Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Johanna Olson

“The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away.” This quote embodied how Johanna Olson lived her life. Johanna loved to share her passion for running and life. She connected with, and inspired, many people in her roles as coach, teacher, friend and mentor.

Johanna was a runner and a fighter, battling brain cancer for more than 15 years before her fight ended Jan. 3, 2013, at age 33. 

Johanna had all the best qualities desired in a friend, sister, teammate and daughter. She was vibrant, smart, courageous, encouraging, positive, funny, tough and inspiring.

Johanna grew up in Wadena, Minn., with her parents, Jane Bagstad and Terry Olson, and sister, Marney. At an early age, Johanna started running and never looked back. Prior to being diagnosed with a brain tumor as a college freshman, Johanna was already an accomplished runner. She won the Division III cross-country championship in 2000, three years to the day after her initial brain surgery. A seven-time all-American, Johanna qualified to run the Olympic trials marathon in 2004 and 2008.

Johanna graduated from Luther College in 2001 and earned a master’s degree from Oregon State. Johanna went on to work as an exercise physiologist at Central Oregon Community College in Bend.  

Johanna was an amazing runner, but one of her proudest moments wasn’t her fastest time. It was crossing the finish line at the Twin Cities Marathon in October 2012 with “Team Joha” despite undergoing treatment for the recurrence of her brain tumor. Her dedication and perseverance cannot be matched. 

Johanna loved her family and friends, living out West, running in the mountains and helping others accomplish their dreams. Johanna could light up a room faster than she could light up a running race—and that’s fast! Johanna left many footprints along the running trails, but even more on the lives of those she met. She will be missed but never forgotten.

A celebration of life will be held Jan. 19 from 1-5 p.m. with a 2 p.m. service at Hamline University’s Klas Center, 1537 Taylor Ave.. St. Paul, Minn. A Bend memorial will be held at a future date. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the Johanna Olson Fund, OnPoint Credit Union, 950 NW Bond St. Bend, OR 97701-2706 or Partners in Care Hospice, 2075 NE Wyatt Court, Bend, OR 97701.

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