Young Cancer Survivor Honored at Principal Charity Classic


Cooper Wendland (WHO-HD)

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Even though storms kept the players from playing, it didn't stop the celebration honoring the winner of the tournament and some special kids who benefit from charities supported by the Principal Charity Classic.

Cooper Wendland was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016.

“It was really hard because I couldn't really do anything. I could go walk around once and awhile, but that was pretty much it,” Cooper said.

Cooper’s mom, Stacie Wendland, said it’s been a tough several years for their family.

“We got the news in November of 2016 that the cancer is gone, which is wonderful, but something I didn't know prior to Cooper’s Diagnosis is that you still have well over three years of treatment,” Stacie said.

That treatment costs thousands of dollars and can be a burden on a family, but charities have helped make the burden a little lighter.

“It was important for us to have Cooper know and give thanks to the people who have helped him through Blank Children's Hospital and the other charities that this tournament supports. And to show that these are the people that are working for you to help you when you were in the hospital getting your chemo,” Cooper’s dad Jeff said.

The Wendland family was invited to the Principal Charity Classic, and not only had the chance to hang out with the professional players but also got a special surprise on the last day of the tournament.

“It was really exciting because we are going to a Chicago Cubs game this August and we got stuff to cheer on the Cubs,” Cooper said.

Cooper and his twin brother Jaxson love to play and watch sports together, which was tough to do at the beginning of Cooper's treatment.

“He had to wear a back brace for six months. As soon as he got that back brace off and could start playing basketball, baseball, golf, soccer, he's been back to his old self and it's been so good to see. And even though he and his brother will fight a lot, it's still nice to have things back to the old normal,” Stacie said.

Cooper said he wants to give back someday.

“I really want to play for charities that help people who are sick and can't really do anything to help them feel better,” Cooper said.

Tournament organizers said putting a face to the kids this tournament helps was essential.

“Their stories were profiled throughout the entire course," said Principal Foundation Director Mandi McReynolds, "so that individuals could really understand what the proceeds go towards and that it's more than just great golf and an entertainment experience, it's for a great cause."


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