Donor Spotlight

Melanie McCullough

Like so many others, Noel and Alexa Coon have been touched personally by cancer. The disease which strikes one of every two men and one of every three women in the United States has not spared the Coon family. The list of loved ones afflicted is long:

Noel’s mother, Lulu, passed away after a battle with breast cancer at the age of 54, as did his sister, Marie. His brother Michael died of Hoskins Disease when he was only 27 after 15 years of treatment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. His original prognosis was death in 6-12 months. A business partner and good friend, Chip, succumbed to liver cancer at age 47 this year. However, other loved ones are winning the fight. Noel’s sister, Mary, is a cancer survivor since 1979. Another business partner and friend, Lorne, is a seven-year survivor of esophageal cancer.

Alexa, too, has lost family members to the disease. Her father and grandfather both died with stomach cancer. Her mother’s breast cancer is in remission, as is her aunt’s colon cancer.

The fight against cancer is very personal.

So when the Coons began researching where to give their money, cancer research was a good start. They read reports, looked at Charity Navigator which rates charities and investigated organizations that fund cancer research. They were looking for a charity that was a good steward of its funds to assure that their money would be used for its intended purpose. And they wanted to have fun while making a difference. The V Foundation met all of these criteria.

“I have a heart for cancer research,” Noel said. “I wanted to give back to institutions in a country that has blessed me with the means to do so. I want to make a difference in finding a cure for cancer, and I want to have fun doing so.”

Noel and Alexa are making a difference. In addition to being members of the President’s Club and personally donating tens of thousands of dollars to The V Foundation, they have also generously donated use of their 114- foot yacht, the Alexa C2, making the boat with its five-person crew, food and wine available for auction at the V Foundation Wine Celebration. The auctions of their yachts alone have yielded nearly $600,000 for cancer research.

One year the boat was heavily scheduled for use by the Coons and their families. The Coons had considered not offering the yacht in the auction that year but “we were at the Spirit of Jimmy V dinner in New York City and heard of a cancer reoccurrence in one of the V Foundation board members,” Noel said. “I turned and said to my wife, ‘What if our donation is the one to fund a study that finds a cure for his cancer and we did not do it?’ We agreed; if it is within our power to do good and we do not do it, shame on us.”

Noel also mentioned the impact of losing his friend Chip to cancer in January. “His widow is 40, two years younger than my daughter,” Noel said. “His son is 16; his daughter is 12. This ought not to be. I should do what I can to help fund research to stop this from happening in the future.”

“Noel and Alexa epitomize what charitable giving is all about,” said V Foundation Chairman Bob Lloyd, a friend of the Coons. “They do it from the heart and for all the right reasons. They are truly members of the V Foundation ‘family.’” Noel said Bob’s genuine passion for The V Foundation was also a factor in choosing to support the Foundation.

Noel and Alexa are having fun along the way. The Coons, along with Bob Lloyd and fellow board member Dave Williams, regularly attend the V Foundation Wine Celebration in Napa and the Spirit of Jimmy V New York Gala as well as raising money while having fun in their home state of Hawaii.

The Coons’ passion, commitment and friendship exemplify the spirit of The V Foundation. Together, they are helping to defeat cancer.