Inspired by their hero, Kevin, the Cordasco family carries on the movement their son and brother started, to make a difference for teens with cancer and their families.
WRITTEN BY DEBBIE YANUCK
After suffering from a mysterious illness for three months, Kevin Cordasco was diagnosed, at the age of 10, with stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer. He fought valiantly with the help of his younger brother, Cade, and his parents, Melodie and Kevin (Dad), for almost seven years before he passed away March 11, 2013. His battle to live and stay positive inspired thousands. And it prompted his parents, a year after his death, to start The Kevin Cordasco Foundation: Something Yellow, which is “committed to raising awareness and much-needed funds to benefit [the families and children enduring] childhood cancer.” The Cordascos say that while “The universal color of childhood cancer is gold . . . there are many variations of the color gold and we accept yellow as one of them. [Yellow has a special meaning to our family.] It is our hope that the many groups supporting childhood cancer will come together and paint the world yellow and gold to raise awareness for the heroes of childhood cancer.” Kevin Cordasco was more than a hero, he was a beacon for how to live life with joy, hope and the ability to make others better humans, even as his physical body was failing.
When Kevin first learned he had cancer, he asked his doctor (Dr. Rima Jubran) “How much time do I have? Am I going to die?”
She replied, “I don’t see an expiration date.”
Together they fought his cancer, becoming more than just doctor and patient. At one point in his treatment, Kevin emailed Dr. Jubran to ask why they had stopped the chemotherapy. He reminded her that she had promised him they would never stop fighting the disease. She called him back on a Sunday evening. He got off the phone and told his parents, “We have to be at the hospital at 8 a.m. tomorrow. We are starting chemo again.”
Kevin knew every drug he was on and researched everything. He gave his body up to stem cell and bone marrow treatments, along with experimental procedures, to help not just himself, but also others suffering from cancer. One of the treatments caused him to lose part of the pitch range in his hearing. One afternoon as he sat outside with his father, he said, “I can’t hear the sprinklers coming on, but I still hear the birds chirping . . .”
Kevin and Melodie Cordasco went from an “average family” working and raising two boys, to a family that spent almost seven years in and out of hospitals. Melodie stopped working so she could spend every day/night at the hospital with Kevin, while Kevin (Dad) went from home, to work as a real estate agent, to the hospital and back again. Cade went from being the younger brother Kevin taught to swing a bat, to the brother who helped Kevin walk in the end days. The fight to keep Kevin alive took an emotional and financial toll on the family. Something Yellow aims to help families like theirs.
While battling his disease, Kevin taught himself to play the drums and piano. He loved music and danced, he earned his driver’s license, and he gave speeches. He spoke without notes, sharing his hopes for a cure and his aspiration to help others, all with a twinkle in his eyes. His fierce desire to brighten the world he inhabited shone each time he spoke into a microphone, so much so, that Melodie and Kevin (Dad) say that the Foundation thrives because Kevin’s joyous spirit lives on in its mission “to improve the lives of the affected kids and families and to contribute to the research community to find a cure.”
With all the time he spent in and out of the hospital, Kevin saw others like himself, adolescents, and wanted to do something special for them. During the last year of his life, he raised funds and delivered holiday gifts to teenagers spending the holiday at Children’s Hospital. He made sure the gifts were geared for teenagers--tech toys, gift cards and more. He wanted to recognize them not as children, but as adolescents. Today, The Kevin Cordasco Foundation: Something Yellow delivers to four hospitals carrying on Kevin’s wishes.
As Kevin (Dad) says, “Kevin’s river flowed . . . yes, at times we had to be proactive and row, but it was Kevin’s river and as his parents we jumped on for the ride, trying to do our best to honor him and other kids like him, because all he and they wanted to do was to be ‘normal’ and to live.”
When the priest came in to give Kevin his last rites, Kevin said, “Thank you.”
The priest replied, “No, Kevin, thank you.”
Thank you, Kevin, for reminding us all how lucky we are to hear the birds sing, to swing a baseball bat, to dance on our beds, and to hug our families close. With the help of your fierce spirit and the Foundation that grew from your life, your parents and brother will continue to work with others so that one day all children will live long, cancer-free lives.
The upcoming Hootenanny at King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas on Saturday, May 18, 2019 will donate all proceeds to The Kevin Cordasco Foundation: Something Yellow. It is an “all-inclusive afternoon and evening event with the best local food, wine, craft beer, spirits & music.” Just as Kevin loved to listen to music, dance and eat, people will come together to do the same thing, all while benefitting children fighting cancer. Kevin would say to his parents, “Life is where I want to be, is it too much to ask?” It isn’t too much to ask. And with a little music, some food and drinks, and in good company, we all can help to raise funds for Something Yellow.