Colin Cole came to Iowa in 1999 and made a difference.
The defensive tackle from south Florida was one of Kirk Ferentz’s first high school recruits after Ferentz became the Hawkeyes’ head coach.
“When I first got there we were pretty much a laughingstock in the Big Ten,” Colin said. “It was great to be part of a group of men who took it upon themselves to take back the dignity of Iowa and put it in the national rankings.”
Colin’s senior season ended with the Hawkeyes co-Big Ten champions and Orange Bowl participants. He was a first-team All-Big Ten player who went on to an NFL career that stretched to 2015, and included 117 games.
It’s 2018. Colin and his wife, Dr. Kaye Cole, want to make a difference.
The couple met while they were attending Iowa. At the time, Kaye was getting her Ph.D. in counselor education. Today, fittingly, she is a consultant/educator. She also is in the running for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Woman of the Year honor. She is trying to raise a total of $150,000 to help 60 eligible families with medical copay assistance for a year so they can focus on their cancer treatments, not their financial burdens.
The Coles live in Charlotte, N.C. Colin spent the three seasons of his NFL career with the Carolina Panthers.
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They have had a variety of fundraising projects this spring. One involves their alma mater. It’s the selling of black T-shirts with gold lettering and the message “Cancer messed with the wrong Hawkeye.”
Through May 29, people can buy the shirts at detourtowonderland.com. All proceeds go to LLS, a nonprofit dedicated to funding research to curing blood cancers.
People can also click on the “Operation: Goal Line Stand” link at that site to donate so T-shirts can be given to cancer patients, their families, and medical staff at the University of Iowa Children's Hospital and Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“We’ve gotten amazing feedback,” Kaye said. By the way, it would take the rest of this column space to list her accomplishments and causes.
While the Coles were in Iowa City in April, Kaye met with oncologists at the UI and was inspired to include both of the aforementioned facilities in the T-shirt portion of her fundraising campaign.
“I wanted to do something to give back in a way,” she said. “Colin wanted to do something, too. We’re alumni who love our university so much.”
Colin is one of the many true success stories to pass through the Iowa football program, and not just because he became an integral player. He went from being a shy, homesick teenager to a team leader while he was a Hawkeye. He took acting classes at Iowa to learn to be more comfortable around people.
In one isolated example of what Colin is like, he was a Green Bay Packers teammate of Aplington-Parkersburg’s Aaron Kampman several years after they’d been teammates of Iowa. Colin accompanied Kampman to Parkersburg in 2008 the week after that town had been decimated by a tornado (Friday marks the 10th anniversary) to help remove rubble from home sites.
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Though he was undrafted in 2003, Colin worked his way onto an NFL roster that year and built a good reputation through his playing career and beyond.
“I enjoyed the opportunity to live my dream,” said Colin, who has three children at home. “Now I’m with my family on a daily basis, a very active participant in their lives.”
He and Kaye formed The Cole Group. Its stated mission is “orchestrating events pivotal to developing the potential of youth and improving the effectiveness of philanthropic endeavors.”
Those who revel in waving to kids in the Children’s Hospital from Kinnick Stadium during games should love helping the Coles try to fund research for cures to diseases that put some of those kids in that hospital. Awareness is wonderful, and so is financial support for science.
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