Watching students rally around her daughter’s cause, 17 years later, is “breath-taking” for Pina Cotesta. She was at Lockerby Composite School Oct. 10 when hundreds of enthusiastic students gathered to support the school’s annual Lockerby Cancer Drive.
The pep rally is a yearly event at the school, aimed at raising spirits and enthusiasm for the annual cancer drive, which in 17 years has raised some $550,000.
“It’s absolutely awesome ... to know her dream lived on,” Cotesta told Northern Life.
Laura Cotesta was a student at Lockerby in the early 1990s. While completing her education, learning to drive, maintaining a social life and being involved with her school — typical fare for the average high schooler — the vivacious teenager also battled cancer.
Shortly after she finished her OAC year, the disease claimed her life, but Laura never let it beat her. Even as she fought for herself, she kept the lives of other young people in mind.
It's such an amazing experience.
Lockerby Composite Grade 12 student and chair of the Laura Cotesta Cancer Drive
“Laura Cotesta left the school with a legacy,” a media release from Lockerby stated.
On top of dealing with everyday teenager life and fighting cancer, Laura made it her mission to raise funds for a pediatric cancer care centre in the north. Tired of travelling to Toronto for treatments and unwilling to wait for someone else to act, Laura took on the challenge.
The project was called Kids Caring for Kids — and still is.
“It’s actually happening,” Cotesta said, beaming the way a proud mother does.
So far, Lockerby has raised about $550,000 in Laura’s honour. And they are far from done.
“We raised $50,000 last year, and our goal is to match that amount this year,” said Heather Gaffney, principal of Lockerby. “If we reach this goal, we will have raised $600,000 for the Northern Cancer Foundation in 17 years. What a tribute to our school and our community.”
Bennett Blackwell, a Grade 12 student from Lockerby, is chair of this year’s Cancer Drive.
“Cancer Drive has always been an important cause to me,” he said.
While he has never been personally touched by the disease, Bennett said bringing smiles to children’s faces is enough motivation to get involved.
This year, he and hundreds of other students will canvas the streets of Sudbury, collecting funds for the cause.
“It’s such an amazing experience,” he said. “We try to cover as much of the city as possible.”
Sudburians can expect a knock on their door between 5 and 9 p.m. Oct. 25. All donations will be presented to the Northern Cancer Foundation.