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Resilient Huntington Beach resident Jami Marseilles dies after battle with cancer

Bilateral amputee Jami Marseilles, left, completes the 2016 Surf City Half Marathon in Huntington Beach.
(Drew A. Kelley)

Huntington Beach resident Jami Marseilles was a fighter all the way until the end.

A bilateral amputee turned runner turned author and motivational speaker, Marseilles inspired countless people with her perseverance and attitude.

“She did all kinds of motivational speaking, from elementary school kids to the Patriots football team to the Boston Marathon bombing survivors who became amputees,” close friend Christy Sheetz said. “She was always there with a pep talk.”

A breast cancer survivor, Marseilles died Feb. 10 after the cancer returned to her lungs and other parts of her body. She was 53.

Marseilles is survived by her husband Beau, son Tanner and daughter Sydney. Tanner and Sydney are a senior and sophomore, respectively, at Edison High.

Friends and family have organized a memorial for Jami Marseilles on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Huntington City Beach, between towers nine and 11. That is where the city installed its third Mobi-Mat after receiving a $10,000 donation from Marseilles’ Warriors With Hope organization, which provides education and support for amputees and cancer survivors.

“We thought it was the perfect spot,” Sheetz said. “That’s part of her legacy.”

A Celebration of Life will follow Saturday at the Marseilles family residence. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made to Marseilles’ GoFundMe.

Jami Marseilles, left, presents Mayor Kim Carr with a $10,000 check during the City Council meeting on Nov. 2, 2020.
Jami Marseilles, left, presents Mayor Kim Carr with a $10,000 check for a third Mobi-Mat during the Huntington Beach City Council meeting on Nov. 2, 2020.
(Screencap by Matt Szabo)

Marseilles, believed to be the only female bilateral amputee to run a marathon, completed the Chicago Marathon in 2015 and the Boston Marathon the following year.

Sheetz said Marseilles helped motivate her after her husband, Chris, suffered a spinal cord injury during a pool accident and came home in a wheelchair.

“I had already been friends with her, but she was the one person who could talk to me on that level and say, ‘You can still have a beautiful life,’” Sheetz said. “She was like, ‘I never thought I would get married, I never thought I would have kids, and look at what I have.’ Those words have just stuck with me … It wasn’t what I had pictured, but you can just change the picture. She was so right.”

Huntington Beach City Councilwoman Natalie Moser, herself a breast cancer survivor, mentioned Marseilles during her closing comments at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

“Jami was a very incredible and inspiring person,” Moser said. “She inspired so many, both here in Huntington Beach and around the world ... She’s one that had a really public persona for all of the charity work that she did, but the personal part is just really challenging. I just want to extend our love to her family. I do know that when I walk down the Mobi-Mats, I will think about Jami.”

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