MINNEAPOLIS - A Twin Cities community is coming together to remember a woman who had her life cut tragically short, while on her way to give back to others.
Jill Friedrich was biking near the intersection of North Second St. and North Lowry Avenue at 5:45 a.m. Thursday, when she was struck by a van.
It's a street Friedrich knew well.
“It was just kind of a typical Thursday morning for her," said Jake Frisch, Jill's brother. "She never asked for anything in return. It was just who she was as a person."
Twice a week for the past three months she would bike from her home in Columbia Heights to the Higher Ground Shelter in Minneapolis. It was there where she would meet with, and run alongside, residents of the shelter, as a mentor for Mile in My Shoes, Minneapolis.
“She made clear from the very beginning that she was very committed," said Julia Stewart, with Mile in My Shoes. "We only ask run mentors to come once a week, but she often would come twice a week. And she would ride her bike, leave at 5:30 in the morning, to get to Higher Ground on time."
Jake Frisch says that's just the kind of person his sister was.
"She was the most wonderful human being that I have had the good fortune of having in my life," Frisch said. "Really incredible human being. Always willing to reach out a hand to someone in need."
Friedrich, an avid runner who enjoyed running in marathons, was also an accomplished Biochemist at the University of Minnesota, but those who saw her work for Mile in My Shoes, say she was also a gifted listener and mentor.
“When I think about Jill, I just think about how eager she was to form relationships with people who were different from her and maybe had different stories than her, but that really didn’t faze her," Stewart said.
"She was the best big sister in the world. She was my protector. My best friend," Jake Frisch said.
According to Minneapolis Police, the driver of the van that hit Friedrich stopped at the scene and has cooperated with the investigation. Frisch said his sister was wearing a bike helmet but that it most likely flew off during an impact, which sent her flying 40 feet.
There is a celebration of life planned in honor of Jill Friedrich from 5-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 22, at Jax Cafe. A memorial service will begin at 6:30 p.m.