PENNIES FOR PAT
My name is Jill Metzler-Wiese and I am Pat's proud aunt and Cooper's very proud mom.
Cooper is like most seven year old boys: he climbs up on things so that he can jump off of them, he has no idea that biking at a slow speed is an option and he loves his older boy cousins.
We spent many a weekend, on the road going to one of these big cousin's baseball games. Cooper, wearing Pat's number on his back, would look dreamy-eyed as his big cousin played his heart out. Pat lives in Syracuse NY and Cooper in Durham NC but the miles didn't do anything to hamper this great relationship. Pat made it a point to call Cooper and talk even though he had a full life of baseball, classes, girls and an of-age ID. Cooper would return the favor by telling Pat about the latest shennanigans of our dog, Logan and where his favorite hide and seek spot was on the playground. They were a funny looking duo but they worked.
When Cooper first learned of Pat's cancer, he was full of questions: What is cancer? How did it get there? What does it look like? Does it hurt? Will Pat OK? Using descriptives like "bad guys", "hideout", and "chemo ninjas", I helped Coop understood what was going on. What he couldn't understand was why this was happening to his hero. I told him that I didn't know--that no one knew--why this was happening.
And that's when Cooper got angry at cancer.
I've always told Cooper that it's OK to get angry--- as long as you use it to do something about it. He's also heard me say that Wieses don't start fights: we finish them. I meant these words to help him after he lost his first heat in swimming or after some big kid pushed him off the monkey bars. I had no idea to what degree he actually heard me. Or if he even heard me at all. Until now.
Weeks went by and Pat's prognosis was looking up. In typical Patrick style, he blew past the physical therapist's expectations and he rocks the bald head better than Vin Diesel could even dream of doing. It was then that Cooper decided how he would use his anger and help Pat: he'd just cure cancer. When he asked me how he could do that, I told him that he could become a scientist or doctor. He loved the idea of this until he realized that it meant lots of extra homework. He decided that fund raising was less of a threat to recess.
He came up with several ideas: Sell lemonade at his school, Immaculata Catholic. Sell cookies and hot chocolate during car-line. Have a baseball game between the Durham Bulls and kids at his school whose lives have been affected by cancer. (I am working on that last one)
One day, he was helping me clean out my car. Finding some pennies, he asked if he could have them. "Sure", I said, "What are you going to do with them?" I was expecting to hear something like "Save up to go to Disney again" or "Buy that football game for my Wii".
I was stunned when he said: "Give them to Pat's foundation to help fight cancer. Maybe I can ask all the kids in my school to bring in their pennies too."
And so, out of the mouths of babes: Pennies for Pat.