BUFFALO, NY (WIVB.COM) -
Most 32-year-old women are not asked for their dying wish. Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding Olivia Coia led Laura Coia, Olivia’s mother, to ask her daughter to make one. Olivia battled triple-negative breast cancer. Diagnosed with stage IIIC at age 31, her cancer spread rapidly. She lost her battle on March 4, 2010, less than a year after her diagnosis.
“Olivia stayed positive through everything she had to deal with,” her father, David Coia explained.
Prior to Olivia’s death, Olivia’s mother Laura watched her daughter’s health deteriorate and asked her daughter what her wish would be if she passed on.
“Dad could start a run in my name. The money could be used for triple-negative breast cancer research and for scholarships for kids.” Olivia told her mother.
“She was a teacher and she lived and breathed everything about the kids,” David explained.
At the time of her diagnosis Olivia worked as a special education teacher at Silver Creek High School. She was an avid runner, who participated in the Buffalo Marathon just before her diagnosis. Her passion for athletics became apparent during her childhood, running track and cross-country at Silver Creek High School and swimming for both Silver Creek and Niagara University.
“Picture her being eight or nine years old and running around the park with her brothers. One day she came up to me and said ‘Can you time me around the course we are running?’” David recalled. “ Sports were just something she enjoyed doing.”
Olivia’s 5k Wish Run is held annually at Evangola State Park, on a course Olivia ran as a child. Sunday will mark the third run in Olivia’s honor. The money raised helps fund triple-negative breast cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. It also funds scholarships, awarded to civic-minded high school students attending several partnering schools in the Buffalo area.
Before Olivia died she told her mother, “Mom I don’t know what dying feels like but I don’t feel like I’m dying.”
Triple-negative breast cancer caused Olivia’s corporeal presence to no longer be seen but it failed to stop her positive and good-natured spirit from being felt. Thanks to her wish, granted by those that loved her, Olivia’s kind heart still beats on the run.