Neighbors www.SanTanSun.com November 16 - December 6, 2013 43 Neighbors Cooper battles cancer, prepares for Ironman Luxe and partners perform makeovers S.T.R.E.S.S. less this holiday season Neighbors PAGE 44 Spirituality PAGE 65 PAGES 72-74 Kids Express director nominated for award BY LYNETTE CARRINGTON Last year, at the age of 41, Steve Cooper received the devastating news that he was diagnosed with very aggressive, stage four metastatic prostate cancer. He continued to stay focused, however, throughout a battery of tests and radical prostatectomy on Jan. 23 by urologist Dr. Kevin Bigelow. Remarkably, even as the Chandler resident trains for the upcoming Ironman Arizona on Nov. 17 in Tempe, he is undergoing chemotherapy and invites his friends and neighbors to join him on his journey. Ironman Arizona kicks off with a single-loop swim in Tempe Town Lake, followed INSPIRATION AND DETERMINATION: Steve by a challenging three-loop Cooper is preparing for the Ironman Arizona while undergoing radiation treatment. bike course through the Submitted photo Sonoran Desert. It ﬁnishes with a spectator friendly run around Tempe Town Lake and Papago Park. To Cooper’s knowledge, he is set to be the ﬁrst male to complete an Ironman competition while undergoing current radiation treatment. The Ironman competition is notoriously a tough one, with a 4.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26-mile run all taking place, back-to-back during the course of the race. Cooper says he is certainly up for the challenge. “My recovery has been remarkable with most functions restored within weeks and months due to the incredible skill and competency of Dr. Bigelow and the support and training of my close friend and the best Pilates instructor on Earth, Julie Poplawski,” explains Cooper. Eighty-eight days after his surgery, he rode 118 miles on a bicycle BY TRACY HOUSE Talk to Andrew Rascon and you’ll understand just why he was nominated for the Outstanding Afterschool Professional award for the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence awards. His enthusiasm and excitement for kids and his job as Kids Express program coordinator at Fulton Elementary School are commendable. “This is my second home,” Rascon says with a smile. He beams with pride as he talks about the school and the kids with whom he works. Rascon has been the director at Fulton’s Kids Express for five years, since the school MR. ANDREW: A full house showed up for a photo with Andrew Rascon, center, to send to the committee for the Outstanding Afterschool Professional award. The ceremony was held Nov. 2. Photo by Jennica E. Maes opened. He has a staff of six helping him run the program. “They’re what builds the SEE AWARD PAGE 46 San Tan Mountain Regional Park welcomes new ranger BY TRACY HOUSE Getting budding naturalists outside is the ultimate goal of the new interpretive park ranger at San Tan Mountain Regional Park. “I just love getting people outside and getting them to look at plants and animals and the rocks and just giving them that opportunity to have an up close and personal experience with the great outdoors,” says Tishia Stewart. She enjoys working with kids and families to help discover the wonders of the outside. “When they start asking questions, then I know I’ve done my job,” says Stewart. Stewart earned a four-year degree in two SEE IRONMAN PAGE 46 The only carpet company that cleans in 3 stages! With no hidden costs! A NEW FACE: As the new interpretive ranger at San Tan Mountain Regional Park, Tishia Stewart wants visitors to connect with nature. 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