The Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance (COCA) was created when an independent ovarian cancer support group, comprised of several determined ovarian cancer survivors and the group's facilitator decided to form a non-profit organization in order to secure continued support and provide awareness and education about ovarian cancer to the community. Papers were submitted for non-profit business incorporation to the Secretary of State in Denver, Colorado on June 16, 2005.
Jeana Capel-Jones presided as first President of the Board of Directors.
This original support group became COCA. The group received a significant memorial donation from Jim Griesemer and the family of Nicki Stoner to insure the support group, so important to Nicki, continued its services. The support group was renamed Nicki’s Circle Ovarian Cancer Support Group in her honor (a suggestion actually made by Sean Patrick of the HERA Foundation). Susan Hess, MA, LPC, one of COCA's founders, and the original group's facilitator, continued to facilitate the support group and still does today.
In 2006, a proposal was written to the Colorado Cancer Coalition and a $9,000 grant was received which was used to: increase the number of support groups to additional locations, develop the web site, print materials for five community health events including the 9Health Fairs, and to bring OCNA’s national “Survivors Teaching Students (STS): Saving Women's Lives®” training program to Denver.
Training local survivors for this program was key in COCA’s subsequently setting up the STS program at the University of Colorado Medical School.
In 2007, Darice Bayer became the second President of the Board. In addition to creating events to help fund COCA, Darice developed the “March to the Capitol” September awareness events that began the following year.
Nicki’s Circle was offered at St. John’s Cathedral and Swedish Medical Center.
The STS program continued to be developed at Univ. of Colorado Medical School.
1st "March to the Capitol” September awareness event.
Nicki’s Circle continued at St. John’s Cathedral & Swedish Medical Center, and the STS program continued to expand.
In December 2008, Lucy Trujillo, COCA’s first Executive Director was hired. Lucy began advancing COCA’s effectiveness through Board development and organization.
In 2009, Nancy Zurbuch became COCA’s third President of the Board.
At a Board meeting in early 2009, preparations began to host the first Ovarian Cancer Race for Awareness to be held in in Denver City Park on June 5th, 2010. Led and organized by ovarian cancer survivor Jodi Brammeier, who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008 at age 41. Since there was no screening test for ovarian cancer, she made it her mission to raise awareness of the risk factors and symptoms through a 5K Race/Walk. Her hope was for other women to find their cancer early when odds of survival are much better.
The Ovarian Cancer Race for Awareness at City Park exceeded all expectations with 1,700 people in attendance and over $150,000 raised in donations. Organizer Jodi Brammeier passed away a month after the race. The event was renamed Jodi’s Race in her honor.
Mary Phillips became the fourth President of the Board.
Late in the year, Lucy Trujillo resigned as Executive Director due to complications from ovarian cancer.
Guadalupe (Pep) Torres was hired as the new Executive Director; Pep had lost her mother to ovarian cancer.
Nicki’s Circle added a group at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette, in addition to continuing at St. John’s Cathedral & Swedish Medical Center.
With an expanded budget, Pep Torres moved the organization forward as the new ED.
A Nicki’s Circle Tele-Support Group was added, in order to reach women throughout the State of Colorado, and Nicki’s Circle South was added at Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, south of Denver.
A survivor assistance program for women in treatment for ovarian cancer was developed with help from the breast cancer organization, Sense of Security. The COCA.Cares Financial Assistance Program was approved by the Board of Directors, and Susan Hess was hired as the Director of Programs.
An “Ovarian Cancer Task Force (OCTF)” was assembled and hosted by COCA, in order to pull together the various ovarian cancer non-profit groups operating in the Denver area, including: The HERA Foundation, The Kathleen Bennett Foundation, the Cheryl Shackelford Foundation, and the Sue DiNapoli Foundaion. The OCTF became an official task force of the Colorado Cancer Coalition (CCC).
The Kathleen Bennett Foundation decided to dissolve and joined efforts with COCA.
A successful day-long Summit on ovarian cancer was held in September at the University of Denver featuring national speakers and a luncheon for over 100 participants.
The COCA.Cares Financial Assistance Program began providing $500/month grants to qualified applicants.
The Cheryl Shackelford Foundation decided to dissolve and give funds to the COCA.Cares program as well as move its Comfort Kit program to COCA.
Nicki’s Circle added a Caregivers’ Telephone Group.
COCA programs continued to thrive and grow.
Nicki's Circle added a support group in Boulder,
The COCA.Cares Financial Assistance program grew to assist more women and the Comfort Kit program expanded to serve over 100 newly diagnosed women in 2013.
COCA's Director of Programs, Susan Hess, developed COCA's first Ovarian Cancer Resource Guide; 50+ pages of information and resources for newly diagnosed women.
The 5th Annual Jodi's Race for Awareness was a great success with over 3,000 in attendance and over $170,000 netted to support COCA programs.
The first Annual Teal Gala was held in September 2014 with all proceeds benefitting the COCA.Cares Financial Assistance program. Generous donors enable COCA to eliminate the wait list for COCA.Cares assistance!
Executive Director Patrice Hauptman was hired to guide COCA.
COCA programs continued to expand with the addition of the Peer-To-Peer Mentor Program.
COCA is introducing a more comprehensive educational program in 2016.
COCA is also hoping to launch new educational efforts to reach women at high risk for ovarian Cancer.
Patrice Hauptman, COCA's Executive Director, would love to share our hopes and dreams for COCA in 2016 with you personally. Feel free to contact her to discuss in detail at email@example.com or at her cell at 303-419-3200.
Nicki Stoner at QuaLife Garden, 2003
Nicki Stoner, a devoted wife, mother and successful professional was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in January, 2002. Over the next several years she was actively involved in the ovarian cancer support group that met at QuaLife Wellness Community in Denver. Nicki found the group to be of great value and was committed to its continuation and success. After Nicki passed away, her husband Jim Griesemer and daughter Katie Fox established an endowment in her honor to help fund the group’s operation. When QuaLife closed, the endowment was transferred to the newly-formed COCA, and the support group was named Nicki’s Circle. Under the direction of COCA, Nicki’s Circle has significantly expanded its outreach and the number of women it serves.