Gloria Cuccione doesn’t remember how she got through the day.
There was a lot of sitting for the service in the Burnaby church and a lot of standing afterward to hug mourners and to give thanks for honouring her late son, Michael Cuccione.
His funeral, two weeks after he turned 16 and a week after he died from respiratory failure following complications from a car accident, remains a blur for Cuccione.
He had done so much in his short life, she said: He beat cancer twice and set up a foundation in his name to raise funds for paediatric cancer research. The actor, singer and dancer was also gaining popularity for playing a cancer victim on Baywatch and, later, as Jason “QT” McKnight in the fictional boy band 2ge+her, which opened for Britney Spears on tour.
Had he survived, Cuccione said, Michael would have been a successful actor-musician living between California and Coquitlam, which his family still calls home. And he would have continued his crusade to find a cure for the illness that first hit him at the age of nine.
Today, Gloria and husband Domenic Cuccione carry on their youngest son’s legacy through his charitable foundation by organizing major fundraisers that support the Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Research Program at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.
And one of their annual events happens next week: Kick For A Cure, a day-long soccer tournament that draws thousands of visitors from around Metro Vancouver.
To be MC'd by Port Coquitlam Coun. Steve Darling, a former broadcaster, Kick For A Cure has collected more than $758,000 since it started 12 years ago to benefit CAR-T cell therapy and personalized treatments for patients with leukaemia and lymphoma.
“There’s no chemotherapy, no radiation. They use their own immune cells to build an antibody against the cancer,” Cuccione said.
Kick For A Cure begins at 9 a.m. July 6 at Percy Perry Stadium, with the adult tournament (six-on-six co-ed matches) and the Domenic Mobilio Youth Invitational Kickoff (three-on-three games for players ages nine to 17). Registration is open until Friday.
The Canadian Tire JumpStart family fun zone, on the east grass field, starts at 10 a.m. while the Kids Clinic, for children ages four to 11, kicks off at 10:30 a.m. on the Ted Fridge Field with coaches from Coquitlam Metro Ford Soccer Club and Vancouver Whitecaps members.
For those not playing, there’ll be entertainment and a beer garden.
Cuccione anticipates it won’t be long before the Kick For A Cure reaches the $1-million mark. “Every goal we start, we reach — just like Michael did,” she said.