Sunday morning, American Idol winner David Cook was still reeling from the death of his older brother Adam, but he didn't let his personal tragedy stop him from serving as grand marshal of Washington, D.C.'s 12 annual Race for Hope 5K.
"David is beyond the most courageous young person I have ever known," says Jeff Kolodin, co-chair of the race, which benefited the National Brain Tumor Society and Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure.
Cook, 26, stood before the 9,000 participants on the rainy Sunday, first joking that he was there to get a tan, then rallying them around the cause before revealing the news of Adam Cook's death.
"I actually lost my brother yesterday to a brain tumor," he told the crowd, choking up over his words, "and I couldn't imagine being anywhere else right now." Adam Cook, 37, a lawyer in Terre Haute, Ind., who was married with kids, had been battling cancer for more than a decade.
In the day's leading up to Adam's death, Kolodin had worked closely with Cook on the race. Cook's team was the top fund-raiser, bringing in more than $98,000, while the race in total raised about $2 million.
"What he did this morning when he was dealing with the most raw emotion was incredible," says Kolodin. "He talked to 9,000 people in a pouring rainstorm today. No one knew his brother had died, but he publicly said to everyone at the race, 'I do have some bad news.' The crowd went pretty much silent and people were crying."
After the grim announcement, Cook put on a brave face, says Kolodin. "He spent his entire day hugging survivors, signing autographs for them, taking pictures. He did this for hundreds of people in a very chaotic setting. "He shared his very private moment with thousands," Kolodin continues. "He was willing to put his personal, raw emotion out there, knowing he was being filmed. He's a heck of a person."
For more information about the charity, log on to www.curebraintumors.org.