Jill Costello ’10

When Costello, a healthy, nonsmoking athlete, was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer as a junior, she did not let it stop her from giving life her all. Telling her mom cancer was “just another thing on my plate,” according to a Sports Illustrated profile, the beloved women’s crew coxswain instead focused on leading her team and graduating from Cal. Embracing grueling workouts and aggressive treatments without complaint, Costello went on to become the PAC-10 women’s rowing athlete of the year, organize Jog for Jill, an ongoing charity run, and graduate with a 4.0 GPA. She held onto the philosophy to “do what makes you happy in the moment ” until her death at age 22 in 2010. Inspired by Costello’s courage, the campus co-hosts a jog each spring, and childhood friend Kelcey Harrison ran from Times Square to San Francisco in 2012 to raise funds for Jill’s Legacy. She was joined by Costello’s teammates and coach on the final leg across the Golden Gate Bridge. Costello was the first athlete to receive the NCAA’s Inspiration Award posthumously.


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