By SHANNON TAYLOR
OBSERVER Staff Writer
On March 24, 2010, David Coia lost his daughter Olivia Coia to triple negative breast cancer. She was 32 years old.
Olivia Coia succumbed to triple negative breast cancer at age 32.
"I never dreamed I would wake up and not have our only sweet daughter here," said David. "No child should have to go before their parent. It's just not right."
Before she died, Olivia made her father promise to carry out her last wish.
"If I don't make it," she said, "then I have a wish. If you could, have a run in my name. The money can be raised somehow to help with research for triple negative breast cancer and to make sure my kids (her students) are somehow taken care of with a scholarship."
Olivia's 5K Wish Run
When: Sunday, Sept. 30, 11 a.m
Where: Evangola State Park
Why: Proceeds will benefit the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Mass., and the Olivia Coia Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Register: 9:30 a.m. day of event or go to www.olivias5kwishrun.webs.com
David is fulfilling his daughter's wish. On Sunday, Sept. 30, the second annual Olivia's 5K Wish Run will take place at 11 a.m. at Evangola State Park. Proceeds will benefit the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Mass., (through Dr. Eric P. Winer) and the Olivia Coia Memorial Scholarship Fund.
The Dana Farber Cancer Institute was where Olivia was treated in her last month.
"When she left here, the doctors here had only given her the weekend to live," said David. "Dana Farber gave her another month."
The money raised at Olivia's 5K Wish Run goes directly toward funding the research conducted at Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
"We are testing a variety of new treatments, all of which have promise for women with the disease," said Dr. Winer. "As both a clinician and researcher, I believe we will be in a very different place with triple negative breast cancer in 10 years than we are today."
Triple negative breast cancer is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. It is also less responsive to treatment. What had started out as a lump had quickly spread to the rest of Olivia's body. She underwent chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy. In spite of all this treatment, Olivia died nine months after being diagnosed.
Olivia was young and healthy and had no genetic predisposition for breast cancer. She was an athlete and often ran marathons before being diagnosed with the breast cancer, including running in the Susan G. Komen Run to support breast cancer awareness and in the 26.2 mile Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.
David would like to know why his daughter, who was so healthy and had no family history of the disease, got this disease and why she lost her battle so quickly to it.
David's questions are the same questions the researchers are trying to answer.
Dr. Winer responded to David by saying, "When we find out the why, then we'll have the cure because we'll know what causes it."
Aside from helping fund research for this form of cancer, the other part of Olivia's wish was for a scholarship fund for her students. Olivia was a special education teacher at Silver Creek High School. She also was a coach, advisor to Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) and a senior class advisor.
David hopes that the community will join him in making Olivia's last wish come true.
Registration is available on the day of the event starting at 9:30 a.m. or online at www.olivias5kwishrun.webs.com. The event is USA Track and Field sanctioned. Both team and individual awards will be given. For those who do not want to run but still want to support the cause, a 1-mile fun walk is being offered as an option.
The cost of the run is $20 for pre-registered participants or $25 on the day of the event. Students can participate for $15. Children under the age of 13 can participate for free with the registration of an adult.
A post party in the park will be held immediately after the event with food, beverages, music and a Chinese auction. They are also raffling off a pink television in support of breast cancer. There will also be a raffle for a man's gift.
David Coia Jr. will be at the party with his Maximum Force Wrestling to sign autographs and get pictures. The "General Lee Car," like the one from "The Dukes of Hazard," will also be there so you can get pictures or win a ride.
All monetary donations can be sent to Olivia's 5K Wish Run/Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation (NCCF), 212 Lake Shore Drive West, Dunkirk, NY 14048. For more information, call David at 934-7499 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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