Sandown Goes Gold for September for Cole

SANDOWN- For the last year Tony Stoddard, with the help and support of his wife, Michelle Stoddard, has been working to raise awareness of childhood cancer and in so doing to make certain that his son, Cole Stoddard, lives on through that work.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, and gold is its color. Tony Stoddard wants gold on everything, and wants people to think of childhood cancer when they see it. He hopes it not only raises awareness but also inspires people to help put an end to childhood cancer.

Tony remembers his son saying, shortly before he died, that he wasn’t going to grow up to be anything, and that struck Tony hard. He assured his son that he was wrong and that he would do something big someday. And soon after that, Tony decided that he would bring gold to September in the name of his son and in so doing make good on his promise that his boy would do something big.
Cole was just 5 years old when he died from neuroblastoma cancer on Jan. 20, 2012.
Stoddard said he wants to see as much gold in September as there is pink in October for breast cancer awareness, and he has made great strides in helping to get that accomplished. Through social media and any outlet he can find, Tony has been working diligently. It started with friends and family, when Stoddard noticed so little gold around the September after his son passed, but it’s grown much larger.
According to Tony, states across the country and countries across the world are participating. Thirty-nine governors have declared September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. And while spots like the Zakim Bridge and the Prudential Center in Boston have been lit up gold for the whole world to see, the decorations in his hometown of Sandown mean just as much to him, Tony said.
The town, friends and family all rallied around the Stoddard family as they struggled with Cole’s sickness, and even after his death they have wanted to show their support.
The Sandown Public Library was a favorite place for Cole, and staff have stepped fully into Tony’s campaign, covering the building with gold inside and out. There are gold baubles and gold tinsel on the trees and railings on the way inside, more baubles inside hanging from the ceiling, and gold decorations all over. And the display case is filled with books about childhood cancer, to help do what libraries do best: inform.
The children’s room is filled with big yellow smiley faces, so that the issue isn’t too scary for the kids.
The librarians sometimes wear their bright yellow “Smile. Be Happy” Cole Stoddard T-shirts. It was kind of a trademark saying for the boy, according to those who knew him.
Librarians Judy LaPorte and Sue Kehoe said the entire library staff wanted to help out with Tony’s efforts. They noted that the gold in the library has prompted questions and given librarians an opportunity to direct people to more information, just as Tony hopes.
Both said that they always loved to see Cole and his brother, Troy, and sister, Tara, come into the library. It becomes like a family here, said LaPorte, and the library wanted to do its part to support the members of that family.
A tree outside of Town Hall is decorated as well, and schools in the Timberlane Regional School District, which includes Sandown, are also participating.
And, Tony said, houses across town have gold on them, just a little bit in some cases, but it all means a lot to him.
Tony is working with a group called People Against Childhood Cancer, and as part of the effort is working to get more funding to research and fight childhood cancers. With just a small portion of cancer funding going strictly to childhood cancers, one penny on the dollar from the American Cancer Society, said Tony, the group is looking at ways to improve that amount.
Tony noted that the new medications coming out specifically for childhood cancers are very few and the drugs used to battle the diseases aren’t always meant for children. The group is looking at ways to better organize and lobby their legislators.
Tony admitted that it’s a tough subject to face, but said it needed to be done. “People don’t want to hear about it because it’s so painful, but we have to face it head on, as scary as it is,” he said.
Bringing gold to the world has been a healing process for Tony so far, and with the success he’s had, he’s proud that he’s able to keep working to keep his promise to his son.
To find out more and watch the Stoddards’ progress, visit Tony’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/yellowandgoldforcole/. To donate to the cause, Tony suggests Cole’s fund, ‘Coins for Cole.’ Find out more at www.stbaldricks.org/participants/coinsforcole. Also a good spot is Alex’s Lemonade Stand at HYPERLINK “http://www.alexslemonade.org” www.alexslemonade.org.

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