Be a Hero by Supporting Children with Cancer

Hero Benefit poster I am very fortunate that my two boys have enjoyed good health so far. When you don’t face health issues, it’s something that’s easy to take for granted. My usual complaints fall into the categories of being too busy, not getting enough sleep, and worrying about finances. But every once in a while, I’m reminded that these “problems” are nothing compared to what many families face.

I’m talking about children who have terminal diseases. Hazel in John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars says it perfectly (and pardon her French): “There is only one thing in this world sh*ttier than biting it from cancer when you’re sixteen, and that’s having a kid who bites it from cancer.”

Harsh? You bet. But how do you think these kids and their parents feel? I can only imagine the grief, the turmoil, and the burden. I’ve seen it with aging adults, including my own grandfather, which was terrible – but for a child to be plucked from the beginning of life, without ever having the chance to blossom, and given a death sentence before life has truly begun? It’s unfair. It’s unthinkable.

It’s reality.

If you haven’t faced this within your own family, it’s likely that you know someone who has. I’ve known children who were diagnosed anywhere from one year old to their teens. I’m not sure which is worse – never being able to remember a time before becoming sick or living a seemingly normal life, only to have the rug pulled from underneath you when you thought adolescence was bad enough by itself. Either way, any time I meet one of these children or parents or siblings, I realize how strong they must be, how much different their lives are than mine, and I yearn for a way to help.

For someone like me, neither a scientist who will someday find a cure nor a medical professional who can treat and care for one of these patients, I feel pretty useless. Then several years ago, I stumbled upon News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB’s Care-a-Thon. It’s an annual event that assists funding family support services and research, as well as the fellowship program at the Aflac Cancer Center.

As I listened on the radio, I heard parents and their children share their amazing and heartbreaking stories – and triumphs. I knew that I couldn’t give much, but I also couldn’t not give. I knew that if everyone listening took a few minutes and gave a few dollars, millions could have been raised. In fact, last year, the WSB Care-a-Thon benefiting the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta raised over $1.5 million.

This year, I hope to make my portion even more than usual by giving the proceeds from my children’s book Hero to this worthy cause. From Sunday, July 13 through Saturday, July 26, 2014, I will donate 100% of my net proceeds from every Hero sold – those purchased directly from me, from any location in Northeast Florida that carries it, and from

Hero by Sarah Cotchaleovitch

Hero by Sarah Cotchaleovitch

Hero is a children’s book about two regular kids and their pets. The kids who have read it so far seem to enjoy it, and I can’t think of a more appropriate way to share my profits than with other children who deserve a chance at a normal life. So here is how you can participate:

Buy a copy of Hero any time from this coming Sunday, July 13th through the following Saturday, July 26th. If you would like an autographed copy, please message me, and I will ship one to you. If you live in Northeast Florida, Hero is available at the following retail locations:

The FotoTechnika Group in St. Nicholas (my printer and the family business)

Owens Pharmacy in Riverside

Proctor Ace Hardware (all three locations)

Roberts’ South Bank Pharmacy in San Marco

• Sweetwood Books of Fleming Island

Hero is also available from

If you already have a copy, why not purchase another to donate to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta? I think the kids there would love it. Or buy one for your favorite niece, nephew, godchild, or friend. The Care-a-Thon itself will air Thursday, July 31 and Friday, August 1, 2014. Click this link to read more about it (including stories about these amazing children), or use this link to donate directly to the Care-a-Thon online.

Cancer will eventually affect everyone either directly or indirectly, but with our help, these children and their families won’t have to go it alone.

Five Signs You Might Need a Book Intervention

Birthday Books

Birthday Books

When creating my list of books to read in 2014, I thought, I should be able to do this. I was determined to read more from this year’s list than I did in 2013. After all, there were quite a few books that I was excited to read; I was motivated. I did well at first, even reporting my numbers a few short weeks ago.

Then it happened. My husband, eldest niece, and I went to see Divergent, all having read and loved the series. And we got more than we bargained for while there: we were introduced to a book we hadn’t heard of, soon to be released in movie form, The Maze Runner.

I couldn’t help myself; I started researching it while still sitting in the theatre. Who was the author? When was it published? Is there more than one book? Why hadn’t I heard of it?

James Dashner, 2009, two sequels and one prequel – these were the easy answers. As for why I hadn’t heard of it, well, there are just so many books out there. Each new discovery adds another star or constellation to my reader’s night sky, and the funny thing is that I am never satisfied. Give me a good book, and it only makes me want more.

A few weeks later, when my husband asked what I wanted for my birthday, I got the bright idea that I could kill two birds if he got The Maze Runner for me. Since I knew he wanted to read it, too, he went ahead and bought it a few days early. I was dutifully reading another book from my list with the full knowledge that I would completely derail if Thomas said the book was any good.

Thomas pronounced The Maze Runner worthy, so I took the cash a few relatives gave me for my birthday and went to pick up the rest of the series. The cashier told me that if I didn’t care about them being a matched set, I could buy all three from the bargain section. Which saved me enough money to buy a fourth book, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.

That silly movie trailer, aided by a little extra cash, just made my original 2014 book list a lot harder to finish. I might need a…

Book Intervention

Here are five signs that you might need one, too:

1. You always have a book in the car, just in case you get stuck in traffic.

No, I don’t read or text while driving, but I do when stopped at a light. Hey, I have a very stop-and-go commute, and I get tired of listening to the radio. And if I’m not the driver, you better believe I have a book with me. I feel bad for people who get carsick – such a great reading opportunity missed.

2. You panic when you forget your book.

It’s one thing if you’re just going to the store, but it’s full-scale panic mode when you are stuck at a social event with nothing to do except make small-talk with people you hardly know. Or even people you do know. It’s kind of a joke among my family that I’m often in the background of photos, oblivious to my surroundings, absorbed in a book. Everyone’s opening Christmas presents, and I’m reading. Or I sneak a book into a movie to read before the lights go down.

3. You can never read all the books on your to-do list because you keep adding more.

When I was pregnant with my first son, I was determined to read every book in the house. I figured that I might never have the chance to read after my little bundle of joy came into the world. I’m happy to report that not only did I finish all the books in the house, but reading does continue post-baby. And ever since making that discovery, I’ve been buying more books than I can read again.

4. You spend your disposable income on purses big enough to hold a good-sized hardback.

Okay, maybe men don’t have this problem, but I certainly do. I also carry my laptop, so my poor purse was begging to be replaced. I’m happy to report that my new purse holds the laptop and a novel quite comfortably. Could I get a Kindle or just read on my iPhone? Sure, and I have. But I just love actual books (read more about that here), and I love owning them. The book fair is in town this week, and I think there’s going to be more backsliding, which means…

5. You forego putting your china out in favor of shelving your books in the china cabinet.

Or on top of the piano. Or in stacks around the house. I’m doing a pretty good job of keeping them neat (at least, I did until my latest quadruple purchase). But although I’ve dreamed of having a house with a proper library, I somehow think it still wouldn’t be enough. Give me shelves, and I will gladly fill them, then continue getting more.

You know, if this is a vice, I’m not sure I want to give it up. Please tell me I’m not alone. If this sounds like you, too, do we need an intervention, or just some uninterrupted reading time? Methinks the latter.

Happy reading.

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