Sixteen-year-old Haillie Koetter, Milwaukee, WI, was a busy high school sophomore maintaining honor-roll-level academics, playing junior varsity volleyball, and working part-time after school. And then she added neuroendocrine tumor research fundraising to her activities…
In October 2017, Haillie’s stepmother, Esther— who hadn’t been feeling well—was having a lot of doctor appointments and tests. The 37-year-old mother of two and stepmother to Haillie was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer (pNET). Esther and Haillie’s dad Nick live in San Diego, where Nick is a Navy pilot.
Given the distance, with Haillie’s school schedule and activities in Milwaukee—and her stepmother in California—Haillie wanted to find a way to help.
Haillie made plans to raise awareness about this “unheard-of-cancer,” pNET. She set up a Go Fund Me page with a goal of raising $1,000 for her stepmother’s medical expenses.
Haillie and her father purchased ‘Esther STRONG’ bracelets to send to every donor along with a personal, handwritten thank-you letter. Over the next several weeks the Esther STRONG fundraiser took off, surpassing Haillie’s $1,000 goal and raising more than $12,000. With the additional proceeds, Haillie gave donors the choice of supporting Esther’s medical expenses or scientific research through the Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation.
Haillie’s mom, Nicole Richter, explains how moving the experience has been. “This has been such an eye-opening, humbling experience for the entire family. It’s difficult that Esther, Nick, and their family are going through their cancer experience in California.”
Haillie plans to spend her Christmas break in San Diego to be with her Dad and Esther. She says she is looking forward to the warm temperatures and many days of family time.
Hallie is also focused on going to college and becoming a veterinarian. Haillie believes that “If I can make a difference in funding NET research then hopefully others can too and a cure will be found soon.” Thank you, Haillie!