July 14, 2017

By Megan Golden

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The summer before Jordy Shoemaker’s sophomore year, she received news that her father had been diagnosed with stage IV metastatic cancer. The Notre Dame alumna (’12) and women’s lacrosse player was overwhelmed with questions.

“Three-hundred and sixty-five days left with my dad? That can’t be right; we have too much left to do together,” Shoemaker said. “Should I transfer to Boston College and move home? Should I take leave from school and become his full time caregiver? How many months do we have left together? How many holidays? Will he be there to see me graduate? Will he be there to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day? What will this journey be like? Will he suffer? Did they make a mistake? Why him? Why us? Why anyone?”

Shoemaker decided to stay put at Notre Dame and continue her lacrosse career with the Irish. Over the course of the next three years, she relied heavily on her Notre Dame family for support. Her father passed away just over four years later.

“To this day, Notre Dame is what I am most thankful for. It became home to me the moment I stepped on campus and it shaped me into the athlete, friend, nurse and person that I am today. So much of who I am today is owed to Notre Dame,” Shoemaker said. “It provided me with a world-class education at one of the most prominent Catholic universities in the world. It granted me the honor of representing the Fighting Irish on the Division I athletics level, the largest stage for women’s lacrosse at the time. Most importantly, it brought me the most incredible people I could have possibly imagined.

“You hear so much about ‘the Notre Dame family.’ The support my family and I receive from my Notre Dame family has been unparalleled. I will forever be grateful for my time there and I am especially grateful to have been there during my dad’s four-and-a-half year battle with cancer.”

Inspired by her father’s grit, positivity, faith and belief, Shoemaker has decided to run in the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) Half Marathon on October 8, 2017. She will run with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute team.

“As I move forward in the world void of my father, I look for ways to turn my grief into a force for good. Working as a registered nurse and now running the B.A.A. Half Marathon annually have become my ways of carrying the Notre Dame spirit with me in my quest to serve others,” Shoemaker said. “I know my Notre Dame family will continue to support me and I look forward to the impact we will make together.

“Is there anything more powerful than a group of Notre Dame alumni committed to making a difference and working towards a common goal? I don’t believe so. For this reason, I hope they will join me on my journey and I thank them in advance for any and all support. As Joe Theismann once said, ‘If you could find a way to bottle the Notre Dame spirit, you could light up the universe.'”

Shoemaker is calling on her former Irish classmates for help in reaching her goal of $5,000.00 for cancer research. Last year, the entire fundraiser received a record-breaking total of $907,772.

“I run as a member of the Dana Farber team in hopes that I am spreading my father’s call to action to believe, and in some small way, contributing to another family getting more time together,” Shoemaker said.

To donate to the cause or to learn more about the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, click here.

For more on Shoemaker’s story, click here.


Megan Golden, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since August of 2016. In her role, she coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer and cross country/track and field programs. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Golden is a 2014 graduate of Saint Mary’s College and former Irish women’s basketball manager. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, she worked in public relations with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.