Super Cooper race set to help local infants

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Houma natives John and Ashley Fontenot want to serve as inspiration to those dealing with adversity.

Judging by the popularity of their race, it’s safe to say they are achieving their goal.

The 6th Annual Super Cooper 5K and 1-mile fun run is scheduled for March 24th at the Workout Company in Houma.

Now a widely popular community event, the race is expected to raise thousands of dollars for the Cooper Life Fund, which benefits locals in need of neonatal intensive care or other medical needs.

“This has really turned into a heck of a community event,” Fontenot said. “People know all about the Super Cooper race because both the publicity and the exposure we’ve been given, but also because of the cause.”

The race’s creation stems from the family’s journey throughout the past seven years.

The family’s son Cooper Fontenot was born in 2004 with a heart defect called Transposition of the Great Vessels.

“His first year of life, he basically went through a series of surgical procedures, including an open-heart surgery,” Fontenot said.

Through the early days in and out of the hospital, Fontenot said he and his wife struggled to remain positive amidst Cooper’s struggle.

“We’d never experienced this before,” Fontenot said. “It’s kind of like it’s a slap in the face.”

From the tough early days, Cooper persevered and started to recover.

He’s now a typical 7-year-old boy enjoying life just like any other sprout in the early stages of childhood.

“He’s very healthy. He plays sports and he’s active,” the father said. “There’s really no negative affects of what he went through as an infant. We just try and inspire others to show them it’s OK to stay positive during their tough times.”

The way the Fontenot’s decided to spread that message was through this 5K run, which started annually in Lafayette, before becoming bi-annual when the family moved to Houma.

A spring race is held in Houma once a year with a fall race still being held in Lafayette.

Now in its sixth year in the area, the event is widely anticipated and is one of the most popular runs of its kind locally.

Fontenot said this year figures to be no different and participation is expected to be high.

He added that those interested shouldn’t be intimidated because the race isn’t competitively spirited.

Fontenot said everyone of all ages and genders will have a good time at the event.

“It’s a family event, it really is,” Fontenot said. “It’s not just a ‘go out and run,’ event. After the race, we usually have a space jump, food is being served and a DJ is playing. This year, we have a rock wall coming out for the kids. It’s just a really neat event. The most important thing is just to come out and have fun with us. It’s perfectly OK for someone to come out and just walk the course. That’s more than fine.”

All proceeds from the Super Cooper event remain local, benefitting the families of infants admitted at Terrebonne General Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Fontenot said one of the biggest reasons he and his wife created the Cooper Life Fund was to avoid having to pool funds into a national pot.

“We can control where the proceeds go,” Fontenot said. “We can control that 100 percent of the proceeds stay right here in the community and helps families in our community. We know that 100 percent of this is helping people that we know and people that you may know.”

TGMC President and CEO Phyllis Peoples said having people willing to give back like the Fontenot’s is an inspiration.

“Having a child who is in the NICU can be very devastating for a family and the funds from the Super Cooper race allows these families to have peace of mind that they are not alone,” Peoples said. “Our community supports them through their difficult time of need.”

To sign up for this year’s Houma race, Fontenot said those interested have several options.

The first is to visit the race’s website Another is to find Cooper Life Fund on Facebook.

For those without computer access, race applications can be picked up at the Workout Company’s Houma location.

The inspiration lives on – Super Cooper’s message continues to shine bright in Houma and throughout the Tri-parishes.

“We didn’t want our good fortune to go to waste,” Fontenot said. “We wanted to do something to help. We wanted to recognize that others were going through the same things we had been through and help them in any way that we could. … We wanted to let people know that good things were potentially to come and that things don’t necessarily have to end in a bad way.”

Local children Cooper (left) and Remy Fontenot enjoy some
exercise at the 2011 Supe Cooper race. The annual benefit race
returns to Houma on March 24.