Colton’s Comrades

Strangers help area boy through unimaginable circumstances

This time last fall – Colton Cox was a normal kindergartener.

He was in remission after a year-long bout with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer found in the muscle tissue of one out of 100,000 children. While in school and fresh off birthday No. 6, doctors announced the battle to stay alive was starting all over.

“His doctors came and spoke to the class,” said La Crosse Northside kindergarten teacher Shelly Jones. “He had gone in for some appointments and they had found that the cancer had come back.”

Treatment kept Colton in the hospital for six days at a time through most of the winter and spring. As the weather improved outside of his hospital window, professional walleye fisherman Don Loch made his way from Michigan to Colton’s hospital bed.

“When I got home, I talked to my wife and I just felt I need to do something,” Loch said. “I was not sure what, but I needed to help this little guy.”

Treatment on the Mississippi is now part of Colton’s new doctor recommended routine. Along with fishing trips with Loch, a handful of pros on the National Walleye Tourn now donate a portion of their winnings to the youngest navigator of the wild river since Huck Finn.

“It is just nice when everyone is not thinking about business all of the time,” said Loch. “The fellas on the tour are great guys, and we are really hoping to grow this initiative.”

Back in the boat and back in remission, Colton started first grade this fall in Onalaska. But just as school got back underway, one more surprise waited in La Crosse.

La Crosse Logan and La Crosse Central volleyball put their rivalry aside on Sept. 24th, instead raising over $2,000 and making this seven year-old the star of the evening.

“We were all so excited and he was a lot more nervous than we were, so we were like we were not trying to be overwhelming for him,” Logan senior Jordyn Kleman said.

“It is kind of hard, I mean, he has definitely left an imprint on all of us, especially the girls,” Logan assistant coach Jessa Pfennig said.

When strangers turn to comrades, cancer turns away. This is Colton’s story.

“I do not think those who have played a huge role in this have realized how much they have done,” said Colton’s mother Heather Fischer. “We can thank them over and over again, but I do not think anyone can explain it as well as Colton will.”

“I did not expect anything like this,” Colton said.