Cole Stoffel, 13, of Appleton, Wis., an eighth-grader at James Madison Middle School, has raised more than $22,000 for pediatric cancer research and scholarships for cancer patients and survivors by running in an annual half-marathon and then creating his own fundraising obstacle race. While in elementary school, Cole lost his teacher to brain cancer. “Mr. Maufort was a great teacher who always encouraged us to get involved in our community and to give back,” he said. To alleviate his grief and follow his teacher’s advice, Cole connected with the Snowdrop Foundation of Wisconsin and began participating in its annual run to raise money and awareness for young cancer patients.
“After my third half-marathon, I realized we needed a kids-only event, and it seemed fitting to add obstacles, which represent the obstacles that children go through when battling cancer,” said Cole. So, on his birthday, he held his first “Cole’s Cancer Crusade,” a fun kids obstacle-course run at a local high school, benefiting the Snowdrop Foundation. With help from his family, Cole publicized his event through speeches, fliers and social media, sought sponsorships from businesses, and built the obstacle course. Over the past two years, his event has drawn more than 500 participants, and his combined fundraising total has reached $22,500. “I know Mr. Maufort is looking down at each event I am at, and I just want to keep fulfilling what he always told us to do: get involved and give back!” said Cole.