Youth swimmers organize cancer fundraiser
by Staff Writer
Fifteen months of chemotherapy were hard on Lisa Kotterer and her family, but the Mooresville resident recognizes that her fight against breast cancer didn’t come without blessings.
Her family has pulled closer together. And her daughters are organizing a fundraiser to help others.
Caroline and Allison Kotterer, both competitive swimmers, have organized the Breaststroke 4 Hope swim-a-thon, an event where five- or six-person teams compete to swim the most laps and raise the most money.
Proceeds will benefit the Women’s Breast Health Initiative, which provides free mammograms to women without health insurance.
Allison, 17, learned about the organization by following well-known swimmers on social media sites during the Olympics. Her favorite swimmer is Eric Shanteau, who overcame cancer to capture gold.
Lisa, who finished treatment Nov. 7, hopes to get back to playing tennis and “not sweating the small stuff.”
She was diagnosed with advanced-stage breast cancer in August 2011. The cancer had traveled to Lisa’s lymph nodes, but it didn’t metastasize. Treatment included 15 months of chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy proved physically and emotionally daunting for Lisa, who worried about her mortality. She didn’t want to leave her daughters at a time when they needed a mom most.
Treatment was also tough on her daughters, particularly 12-year-old Caroline.
“It was tough seeing me on my bad days,” Lisa recalled. “She just rallied and stayed focused. She plays two sports. That was her outlet.”
Caroline was shocked when she learned of her mother’s diagnosis.
“I didn’t take it well, at first,” Caroline said. “Once my mom started treatment, I kind of learned to help her out, keep the house clean and do the chores.”
Allison had knee surgery a week before Lisa started going to treatments. She was bedridden for a few weeks and got to recover with her mom during the early stages of treatment. They often watched TV.
It was an especially tough time for Allison emotionally, considering she used to have such an active lifestyle and saw firsthand the side effects of cancer treatment, Lisa said.
“I’m blessed with really close friends,” Allison said. “They helped me through it the whole way.”
Lisa said she’s proud of her daughters for organizing the Breaststroke 4 Hope fundraiser.
“While my daily ritual focuses on school work and racing,” Caroline said, “I am also passionate about giving back and supporting causes that affect all of us.”
Want to help?
The Breaststroke 4 Hope takes place 1-3 p.m. Jan. 5 at Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatics, 11725 Verhoeff Drive, Huntersville. Teams will solicit donations or pledges for each lap. The first lap begins with a breaststroke to honor the cause. Swimmers wear pink swim caps to support the event. Details: 336-509-0034, 704-830-8664 or www.breaststroke4