Jimmy Fund Clinic patient and her sister take steps to fight cancer

Emily and Isabelle fundraise for their Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk team at Monomoi Community Services Camp.
Emily and Isabelle fundraise for their Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk team at Monomoi Community Services Camp.

In 2009, 3-year-old Emily Coughlin was diagnosed with Stage IV high-risk neuroblastoma, a rare form of pediatric cancer. For 16 months, Emily underwent treatment at Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic. During that time, Emily and her father Shane were on the bridge of Dana-Farber watching walkers participating in the Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk presented by Hyundai. Shane was determined that they were going to be down there the next year. So, in 2010 just as Emily was finishing treatment, her mother, Amy, and her aunt, Sarah, made it happen. They called upon family and friends to join them in raising money and awareness about neuroblastoma to help fund the extraordinary care Emily received at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. They started a team for the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk, which they named “Team EmmaBelle” after Emily and her sister, Isabelle.

That fall, Emily was healthy enough to walk with her family at the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk. Although she was still fresh out of treatment and regaining her strength, Emily was able to cross the finish line with the help of her team, who pushed her in a stroller or carried her along the 5-mile route. Since her first Walk in 2010, Emily has gotten stronger every day and has now walked the route five times.

Today, Emily and Isabelle are 10 and 12 years old and going into 5th and 7th grade. The care and treatment Emily received at Dana-Farber inspired the girls to become passionate about raising funds to support cancer research. They know that “somewhere, someone has a sick sister they want to get better,” says Amy.

Throughout the year, they help fundraise for their Walk team by selling inflatable sharks at a beach in Chatham, hosting canister collections at local businesses, making earrings to sell at a local bank, creating videos to share with their donors, and participating in weekly fundraisers at their summer camp.

“With the help of their camp counselors they have established that every Monday at camp is ‘Team EmmaBelle Monday,’ and all the campers participate in fundraising activities such as penny wars, lemonade wars, or a game called ‘My Dad is the prettiest.’ The kids get so excited about fundraising and want to help Emily and Isabelle,” says Amy.

Sharing Emily’s story with their community has helped the Coughlin family inspire hundreds of Jimmy Fund Walk participants to join Team EmmaBelle over the years. Both Emily and Isabelle are Jimmy Fund Walk Young Pacesetters, which means they are top fundraisers in the fight against cancer. This year, they each hope to raise more than $1,000 toward Team EmmaBelle’s goal of $100,000 to support Dana-Farber. Learn more about the many ways that kids can conquer cancer and look for Team EmmaBelle this weekend at the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk.