Who is Cole?
Cole-Michael Busch was a gifted student, athlete and actor. A beloved son, brother, friend and mentor who was diagnosed with a glioblastoma when he was 15 years old. He faced the debilitating effects of his brain cancer with uncommon valor and bravery. He never complained, and always seemed more concerned about those around him, and the impact his illness was having on the people that loved him. His family gave him life, but he taught them how to live it.
To find a way to honor him, and help others who are dealing with the death of a loved one, has been a goal of Cole's family since his passing. Through the efforts of The Cole Project, they can offer a support system to all those struggling on this journey, and together find a way to navigate through loss and find a path to healing. For where there is healing there is hope.
And hope changes everything.
Cole Michael passed away when he was 15, due to glioblastoma. He loved sushi, ska music, Andy Kaufman and lacrosse. He lived his life with passion and courage, he was a warrior and my hero.
Cole lived his life with so much joy and laughter. His personality and humor could brighten up your darkest day. I always say he was going to be the next Johnny Knoxville. He was so creative, smart and also a charmer! I have so many memories of Cole Michael from our elementary days to his 15th birthday party. Cole may not be here physically with us but his sprit has never left us.
Thinking back to when Cole passed away I, along with many other of Cole Michael’s friends would have loved to have had a place to go and talk and grieve the loss of Cole. I was 15 when Cole passed. I was already going through a lot just being a teenager in Jr. High School. I didn’t feel at the time that I really had anyone I could go and talk and express the sadness I felt. Along with the confusion of why him, why cancer, etc.
The Cole Project is going to bring a lot of comfort to many who are dealing with the loss of a loved one. During such a difficult life changing time people really need a place like The Cole Project to go and feel safe to talk and get the tools to grieve and cope in a healthy way.
--Monica (Mocha) Leon Baker
I moved to Salt Lake City under very difficult circumstances when I was 15. I was in a really sad and dark place and had to start at a brand new school. Needless to say, I felt alone and out of place. My first day, Cole saw me and immediately walked over to me and invited me over to come sit with him. Before I knew it, we spent almost every moment, of every day together and became the bestest of friends and he had me doing so many crazy and funny things that I never thought I would ever do. That was Cole though.. Just crazy.. Hilarious.. Full of life.. FULL of love and kindness and always had the biggest smile on his face. I think about him and miss him every single day and he saved my life in so many ways.
When I was in seventh grade I changed school districts. I was so nervous I went straight to my first classroom and sat in my desk, alone. That's when a tall, dark haired kid with the biggest smile sauntered in and sat right next to me. He was chomping on some gum and turned to me and just said "Hey, I'm Cole. You new to this joint?" From there on Cole and I were friends. Not necessarily BEST friends, but we made each other laugh. Until ninth grade when we were cast in our school musical of Bye-Bye Birdie. There, Cole and I sat back stage running lines, songs and just talking. He opened up to me and I to him. We started sharing secrets about our fears of high school, our reputations, and who we wanted to be as people. We laughed, and teased and always drove our theater teacher crazy with our shenanigans. When Cole came to school one day limping after he fell practicing one of the routines from the musical, I joked and teased him. We bantered back and forth about how dumb he was.... Then the limp got worse, and his speech started getting mushy. Then he went to the doctor, and found out it wasn't just a sprained ankle, it was a brain tumor. I was devastated. How could I have given him so much guff? His part was recast in our show, and it just felt wrong. We all continued with our lives without him. We all just went on our way, going to dances, weekend hangouts and even ninth grade promotion... While Cole was fighting for his life.
I remember coming home from being away for the summer and wanting to go visit Cole. I was getting ready when my phone rang, it was my friend Isaac. He asked what I was doing and I informed him I was going to go visit Cole that day. The phone went silent. That's when Isaac informed me that Cole had passed away earlier. I stopped breathing, I stopped understanding. Cole Michael Busch wasn't allowed to die. That whole week was a numbing blur. We went to his wake, we wore his T-shirt, we held each other, we cried. I held onto his brother and sister as they sobbed in my arms asking why him? We were all lost, we didn't know how to process what we were feeling.
Afterwards, I tried to stay in contact with the Busch family. The guilt that followed me was more than I could handle. How could I continue living my life, and having new experiences... While his amazing family will never get that with their son. I didn't know how to communicate my feelings about loosing this person in my life. I look back now, after loosing too many other loved ones, and wish I had had something, somewhere, and someone I could turn to more freely to work through all the emotions I was trying to handle. With The Cole project we can provide that safe place for children to go to and understand what they are feeling. We can provide people for them to express themselves freely and openly to process the loss they just experienced. The Cole project isn't just a service to those who may want it, it's a place for all those who NEED it.
--Carleigh-Jo Naylor (King)
"The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long." I don't think there was a single person who lived, loved, explored, questioned, or cared about life and all of its unique experiences quite like Cole Michael. He lived everyday like tomorrow was his last, even when he didn't know it was coming so soon.