Courtney Cox Cole, a Noblesville resident and co-owner of Hare Chevrolet known for her “Sisters of Savings” ads, died Sept. 22, 2019, at age 48 from non-smoker lung cancer. In the aftermath, her children, sister and parents have raised $1 million for a lung cancer research fund in her honor.
Cox’s daughter Cayla Cole said the American Lung Association reached out to the family with the idea of raising money for the fund to support research to find a cure for lung cancer.
Although raising the money wasn’t easy, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Cayla received donations through a variety of means, including Facebook fundraisers.
Cox’s sister Monica Peck Courtney was involved with the American Lung Association since she was diagnosed at age 42. For Peck, it was only natural to continue working with the organization after her sister’s passing.
When Cayla recently received a text message from the American Lung Association that the family had met its goal of $1 million, she said she was overjoyed. She recalls dropping her phone in disbelief and being overcome with emotion.
“It made every moment, every speech, all the nerves, every sales request, all the requests for money, it made everything worth it in that moment,” Cayla said. “I felt like we had really honored her in the best way possible because I knew that was always her goal and what she wanted to do, and in reality, we were just continuing her legacy.”
Peck and Cayla said there is a stigma with lung cancer because it is often associated with smoking, but not all people who contract the disease are smokers.
“There’s a definite stigma with it. ‘You must have smoked,’” Peck said. “And I think it’s why it lurks behind research a little bit. ‘You must have smoked. You had that coming.’”
Cox played basketball and golf at Indiana University and is inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. She also participated in mini triathlons.
“(People) don’t know that (lung cancer) can happen to anyone, (including) people that haven’t smoked a day in their lives, haven’t even thought about smoking a day in their life,” Cayla said. “It kills them, and people just don’t understand.”
For more, visit lung.org.