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Alsip cop fundraising with feet to benefit kids with cancer

Alsip Police Officer Hector Puente (back right) 33 his children Sunev (front left) 10; Steven (left) 16; Jared 11; all

Alsip Police Officer Hector Puente (back, right), 33, and his children Sunev (front, left), 10; Steven (left), 16; and Jared, 11; all will participate either in Monday's Boston Marathon or Saturday's 5K. | Supplied photo

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Updated: May 19, 2014 2:22PM



For Alsip Police Officer Hector Puente, helping those affected by cancer is a family matter.

Puente is participating in Monday’s Boston Marathon as a charity runner for Cops with Kids with Cancer, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that raises money to support families with children undergoing treatment.

Puente gathered $725 in donations from friends and family, while his son Steven raised money at Shepard High School in Palos Heights, where he is a sophomore. They also raised $5,000 from companies, and donations still are being accepted, contributing to the more than $303,000 that has been raised for the cause, according to the group’s page on crowdrise.com, an online fundraising website.

Battling cancer is a personal issue for the Puentes. Hector said the family has a history of cancer. His maternal grandmother underwent surgery for breast cancer in 2012 before enduring a round of radiation treatment.

“She fully recovered but it was a battle that she fought for two years,” Hector said.

For many families, the cost of cancer treatment runs beyond medical bills. Bill Coulter, an executive director of Cops with Kids with Cancer, said parents will quit their jobs or take extensive time off work while their children undergo treatment.

“When there’s a two-parent family, one of them usually has to quit their job or stop their job,” Coulter said. “It’s even worse when you have a one-parent family.”

Cops with Kids with Cancer seeks families in that situation and gives them up to $5,000 for expenses not directly related to treatment.

The charity, run entirely by police officers, works with social workers to find families in need.

Cops with Kids with Cancer was started more than 10 years ago by a retired Boston police officer, Coulter said. It is operated by active and retired cops who volunteer their time. All funds raised go directly to families.

Last year, Cops with Kids with Cancer gave money to 52 families, Coulter said. More than $1.4 million has been raised over the last four years for families in and around New England.

Fundraising takes place all year through various activities, but the Boston Marathon is the biggest event each year for the nonprofit, Coulter said.

“We really depend on police officers like Hector,” Coulter said.

Puente serves in the Army Reserves, in addition to being a cop, and regularly runs 20 to 25 miles a week. As preparation for the 26.2-mile run, he ran extra in the weeks leading up to the marathon. The unusually cold and snowy winter made it difficult to find organized races, he said.

Steven — along with Hector’s other children, Jared, 11, and Sunev, 10 — will run in the 5K scheduled for Saturday.

To view Hector Puente’s donation page or for more information about Cops For Kids with Cancer, visit www.crowdrise.com/copsforkidscancer.



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