Jenni Kufahl never liked the nickname “Wimpy, Wimpy.”
It was a moniker jokingly given to her when she was little by her father John Merrell after seeing a trash bag commercial comparing Hefty trash bags to others.
The nickname wore off by the time Kufahl was an adult, but she still brought it up early in her cancer diagnosis after a surgeon praised her toughness.
“Dad, you can’t call me Wimpy anymore,” she told Merrell.
Kufahl died Sunday after a nearly two-year battle with cancer, bringing to end a courageous fight that truly showed her toughness. She was 39.
“She’s the toughest person I’ve ever seen,” said Merrell, the Christian Heritage Academy athletic director. “She wanted to raise her kids to love and honor the Lord.
“That’s why she kept fighting so hard. Even at the end, she just kept fighting. She’s my hero.”
Her funeral is 1 p.m. Thursday at Southern Hills Baptist Church, 8601 S Pennsylvania. In lieu of flowers, the Kufahls have formed the Kufahl Children College Fund at BancFirst.
Kufahl leaves behind seven children and her husband Heath, the CHA boys basketball and volleyball coach.
She was diagnosed with cancer in October 2012, and since then she caught national attention as she fought the disease.
Heath made the $20,000 half-court shot at an Oklahoma City Thunder game and used the money to help pay for her treatments. She found a temporary relief following the shot, but the cancer quickly returned and forced her to seek a different type of treatment at Envita in Scottsdale, Ariz., in April.
It was there that Kufahl spent the past few months, until returning to Oklahoma City 10 days ago when doctors said there was nothing else they could do.
She spent her finals days surrounded by her family.
“The last three months, even including that time (at Envita), our focus was her and our family,” Heath said. “We really spent, for the most part, all of this time together. That was good.”
Heath said the family will be forever grateful for the outpouring to his family during her treatments.
Friends and family helped raise more than $30,000 for the treatment at Envita — raffling off a storm shelter — and also held an auction for multiple Thunder items in May.
“It was just a blessing to us and it always came at the right time,” Heath said. “It really helped us fight. We had to stop writing thank you notes because we could never get through them all. That kind of support, there are people who don’t have that and we’ve met them.
“God has blessed us with support and the love of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people. I don’t deserve it, Jenni deserves it and that helped us make it through. Hopefully, that will continue to help us make it through.”