Local children battling blood cancers are getting an extra boost thanks to about 20 men and women in the metro.
It's part of a friendly competition to raise money for a cure. But for one man, the competition is more than friendly; it's personal.
"When people pass away that early, you begin to ask why does this happen to people so young? Why does this happen to good people? Why does God take people so early?" said Robert Hoops.
Hoops is talking about his close friend, Michael Corte, who passed away after a long battle with leukemia.
One of the competitors will be crowned the 2014 Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Man or Woman of the Year. The award will go to whomever raises the most money. It's a title Hoops wants badly, not for the award, but for his friend.
"His stage presence was awesome. Really passionate, really expressive," said Hoops. "He was inspirational to a lot of people. Absolutely. He just had this bigger than life status. He was so likeable and made you want to like him."
The two bonded through their creativity, Hoops as an artist and Corte as a musician. Corte made local headlines as a guitarist with the group Beautiful Bodies and taught kids to play guitar on the side.
"He was just becoming so successful and then, snap, leukemia," Hoops remembered.
The last time Hoops saw Corte alive was the day before he lost his fight with leukemia in March 2012. Corte was 29.
The group, CancerVive K. C., was founded in Corte's memory. The group raises money for local cancer patients and their families.
Hoops said he wants to honor his friend's memory.
"It's comforting to think that through his death, something positive really came out of it and a lot of good work has been done." Hoops said.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma's Man and Woman of the Year campaign kicks off March 20.
Hoops said he can't accept donations until then, but he is looking to secure corporate sponsorships.
He said he's the underdog in the competition as many of the others already have businesses backing them.
Wednesday, July 30 2014 7:45 AM EDT2014-07-30 11:45:17 GMT
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