Chapel Hill mom in national contest to help families battling cancer

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Chapel Hill mom, who knows what it's like to have a child with cancer, is helping other families seeking treatment for their kids.

Elise Herman is competing in a national contest for a $10,000 prize to go towards that cause. She's one of eight national finalists and she needs your votes.

"My son was diagnosed a month after he turned two. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor, called Ependymoma, and people will call brain cancer rare but it's really not," Elise Herman said.

Herman and her family moved to cities, all over the country, for months at time seeking treatment for their son.

"He fought for a little over five years and unfortunately lost his battle a year ago in January, but he was quite a trooper," Herman said.

Herman and her husband founded Super Cooper's Little Red Wagon Foundation after realizing how difficult and costly relocating for cancer treatment can be.

"You don't anticipate having your child diagnosed with cancer, and when we found out we were very hopeful and we sought out a lot of treatments," Herman said.

She says that seeking out a lot of treatments often means families have to relocate near hospitals with specialized cancer centers, and that can be expensive.

To help with those costs, the foundation has "ReCOOPERation" apartments in Durham and Chapel Hill to provide housing to families in need.

"Even if we don't have an apartment to be able to put them in, to sleep in, we also will help the families that come in and are being put up somewhere by being in a hotel, but we'll provide them with groceries or food to them so at least we can take one burden off of them," Herman said.

Now Elise is a national finalist in the Lady Godiva Program, a contest celebrating inspirational women.

She's competing for $10,000 for Super Cooper's Little Red Wagon Foundation - money, she says, the organization could really use.

"We have so many needs, so ultimately whether it's the food, the groceries that we're supplying every week, whether it's the transportation, parking passes. You know its $10 a day to park at the hospital, and that's on them, Herman said.

"We see families who have to make a choice: are they going to pay for parking, are they going to pay for food?"

"Financially you're basically making a choice between being able to afford to take care of your child and taking care of your child," Herman adds.

She says that in their journey with Cooper, she and her husband were surprised to learn of the few resources available for families like theirs.

Herman says even if she doesn't win, she hopes the contest will bring awareness to the cause.

"We all would do anything for our children and I would really like to see something available, something like this all over the country, where people don't have to make that kind of a choice because it's not a choice that anyone should have to make," Herman said.

The contest closes tomorrow and you can help Elise Herman and Super Cooper's Little Red Wagon Foundation by voting online here.

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