Bonnie Suter, inspiration for Regis Jesuit boys swim team and many others, dies from breast cancer

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Regis Jesuit senior captain Garrett Suter, left, and mom, Bonnie, hold up their nails painted "Optimistic Pink" in support of Bonnie Suter, who is fighting advanced stage metastatic breast cancer. (Photo courtesy of Wendy Pieseski)
Regis Jesuit senior captain Garrett Suter, left, and mom, Bonnie, hold up their nails painted “Optimistic Pink” in support of Bonnie Suter, who was fighting advanced stage metastatic breast cancer. Bonnie Suter passed away over the weekend from the disease. (Photo courtesy of Wendy Pieseski)

Bonnie Suter, who inspired the Regis Jesuit boys swim team to paint their nails pink to support her fight against breast cancer and encouraged countless others with her battle (story, here), passed away from the disease over the weekend.

Suter’s sons Zach (a 2013 graduate) and Garrett (a 2015 grad) were key members of the Raiders’ program and part of the tight-knit Regis Jesuit swim community that banded together to support her since her diagnosis with advanced metastatic breast cancer in October of 2011.

Bonnie Suter, center, cheers for the Regis Jesuit boys swim team during a dual meet on April 21, 2015, at Cherry Creek High School. Fifty-four Regis Jesuit swimmers, plus some coaches and parents, painted their nails pink in support of Bonnie Suter, mother of team captain Garrett Suter, who is fighting advanced stage metastatic breast cancer. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)
Bonnie Suter, center, cheered on the Regis Jesuit boys swim team during a dual meet on April 21, 2015, at Cherry Creek High School. Suter, mother of team captain Garrett Suter, died after a courageous fight against advanced metastatic breast cancer. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

Zach Suter, now at swimmer and student at Seton Hall University, posted a message on Facebook in memorial to his mother.

“After a four year battle with cancer my mom passed away this morning. I am incredibly grateful for the time I was able to spend with her, and how supportive she was of me and my endeavors. I am lucky I had a parent willing to wake up at 4:30 AM to drive me to practice for years, as well as have a parent that was able to support me and my passion for music. I look forward to the future because of the values I was taught in the past. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to learn from and raise me.”

According to the Regis Jesuit High School website, a funeral service for Suter is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 1, at Eisenhower Chapel located at Lowry. A visitation is scheduled for 10 a.m., followed by the funeral service at 11 a.m. and a reception at Fairmount Cemetery, Chapel in the Pines.

Everyone who attends the funeral is asked to wear pink.

At the time of her diagnosis, Suter was 45 years old and given just two years to live. She made it twice as long as expected and reached her goal of seeing both of her sons graduate from Regis Jesuit and move on to college, Zach to Seton Hall and Garrett to Seattle University.

Suter volunteered often for the American Cancer Society, encouraging women to get their annual mammograms so any early traces of breast cancer could be found. She said she had a clean mammogram two years before her diagnosis and was completely shocked.

“I never questioned why do I have it or poor me, my outlook has always been positive,” Suter told the Sentinel in April after she saw the team’s touching tribute of pink nails. “There’s a reason I have it, hopefully it is to inspire other people to move forward and work hard and do the best they can.”

Though it was difficult at times, Suter prided herself in making it to all but a few Regis Jesuit swim meets since her diagnosis, even donning a surgical mask — which she said she didn’t like because it muffled her cheering — to protect her from infection.

She was able to watch Garrett compete in the Class 5A state swim meet on May 15-16 at the U.S. Air Force Academy, when the Raiders finished second to Fossil Ridge.

Sports Editor Courtney Oakes