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Jenni Kufahl dies after lengthy battle with cancer

by Jacob Unruh Modified: August 4, 2014 at 11:10 am •  Published: August 4, 2014
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photo - Heath Kufahl is the boys basketball coach at Christian Heritage Academy in Del City, but last spring, he became one of the fans who hit the half-court shot at a Thunder game. His story went viral because he hit the shot shortly after  his wife, Jenni, was diagnosed  with stomach cancer. Making the basket gave the couple a chance to share their story with millions. Heath and Jenni are shown in their home on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman
Heath Kufahl is the boys basketball coach at Christian Heritage Academy in Del City, but last spring, he became one of the fans who hit the half-court shot at a Thunder game. His story went viral because he hit the shot shortly after his wife, Jenni, was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Making the basket gave the couple a chance to share their story with millions. Heath and Jenni are shown in their home on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

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.

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by Jacob Unruh
Reporter
Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the...
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