Danielle Cococcia does not consider herself to be an athlete but the mother of two is doing a series of runs this year to raise money for a worthwhile cause – kids cancer research.
Her children are perfectly healthy but she was inspired along with husband James Bebarfald last year to raise attention to kids cancer funding.
With others, the pair formed Team Cayman, a virtual team that joined thousands of people to run and walk to raise money for kids cancer research in the name of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
The foundation emerged from the front yard lemonade stand of cancer patient Alexandra “Alex” Scott 14 years ago when the little girl was only 4 years old.
She wanted to set up a lemonade stand to raise money to help find a cure for all children with cancer, including herself, but died four years later.
Since that first stand, the foundation bearing her name has evolved into a national fundraising movement in the United States, complete with thousands of supporters across the world continuing her legacy of hope.
To date, Scott’s Lemonade Stand Foundation has raised more than $60 million toward fulfilling her dream of finding a cure, funding more than 300 research projects.
Cococcia and Bebarfald organized a run to support the foundation last year and raised a substantial amount.
This year, Cococcia decided to raise $12,000 from 12 runs and is on course to do so. Her fifth run was on Monday in the Cinco de Mayo 5k at Camana Bay.
“I am very excited to report that I’m just past my halfway point with over $6,000 raised so far.” Cococcia said. “I’ve received tremendous support from several restaurants on the island as well as many individuals and I’m so grateful for everyone’s donations.”
Her next challenge is the South Sound Stride 5K on May 31.
Cococcia is overwhelmed by the generosity of individuals and businesses. “I ask for one thing and they give me 10. It’s more than I could ever hope for.
“Life Extension Sports & Fitness has been amazing. Between donations, fundraising and fitness coaching, I have been absolutely blown away by the support of Jen Bily, David Berry and the whole team at Life Extension.”
She has also really surprised herself with her running. “I said at the beginning of this journey that running isn’t my thing and now I’m really enjoying my training and looking forward to the Cayman half marathon (13.1 miles) in December.”
Cococcia added that she has learned not to be so hard on herself about how fast she completes a race or if a little walk break is necessary.
“I used to beat myself up over these things and now that I’m running for more than just fitness, I realize that every step – no matter how fast – counts for something big.”
A question she is frequently asked is how is this benefiting people in the Cayman Islands. “It’s simple, if a child is living here and needs treatment for cancer, he or she needs to go to the U.S. for this treatment – we simply do not have it here.
“At the end of the day, though, I’m doing this for kids in Cayman, the United States and worldwide. I just don’t think any child, regardless of their background should ever have to suffer with cancer or side effects from treatments and I just want to do something to help.”
Anyone who wants to donate to Cococcia’s efforts can visit www.alexslemonade.org/mypage/1000199.