When Cole Winnefeld died July 29, 2015, he left a lasting mark. To some, the 11-year-old redhead was C-3PO, to others, a Knight. To all of us who knew him, he was a superhero. Batcole, to be exact.
I met Cole though my volunteer work with a non-profit organization devoted to helping children with cancer. At 5 years old, he was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma — cancer that started on his adrenal glands and spread to his bones. His parents sought out the best treatment to help their son, which meant a lot of back and forth from a small town in Indiana to the chaos of New York City.
When I first met Cole, I was immediately taken by his kindness and warmth, despite the fact that he was constantly sick from his cancer treatments and the cancer itself. He was always thinking about everyone else. I would visit him after treatment and he would be so excited to see me. Weakly, he'd say, "I got you a WWE wrestler figurine," or "I made you a 'Star Wars' wallet." He remembered every last detail of what others liked.
My goal when I saw Cole was to take him away from the ninth floor of the hospital and bring a smile to his face. I wanted him to feel like a kid again. Not a sick kid. Not a worried kid. Just a normal kid. As a perpetual kid myself, we both shared a love of "Star Wars." It meant the world to me at "Star Wars" Weekend at Disney World when he said, "I'm C-3PO and you're R2-D2."
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