Mar 2, 2010

Cole ... I Love You to the Moon and Back by Aaron Ruotsala

In July 2008, Cole Ruotsala, 3, went fishing with his family. After arriving home that night he complained of a stomach pain. But it turned out that this was no ordinary stomach pain—Cole had cancer. The tumor was vicious and eight weeks later, Cole lost his battle and passed away in his parent’s arms. Throughout this ordeal the Ruotsala’s received an outpouring of support from more than a million people.

Almost immediately following his death, Cole’s parents, Aaron and Moireen, started COLE’s Foundation to support families facing terminal illness. Today, their ministry works with more than a thousand families. And, Moireen was just named as one of 50 “women changing the world” by Woman’s Day magazine, right alongside Michelle Obama, Maria Shriver, Ann Curry, and other well-known women. This is an incredible honor for a 24-year-old mom from a little town in Michigan.

You can learn more about COLE’s Foundation at

About The Book

Aaron’s book, Cole…I Love You to the Moon and Back (Xulon Press) shares the Ruotsala’s journey with cancer and how God walked with them through their darkest days. It also gives readers a look into the outpouring of support they received. This is an emotional book to read but it is filled with hope. It is a story that will move you, inspire you, and cause you to reflect on your own life and the people in it.

Q and A With the Author, Aaron Ruotsala

1. Aaron, in September of 2008, your three-year-old son, Cole, passed away. Share with us about Cole.

Cole was a beautiful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed little boy who always loved to be by our side. He was the kid that would “Be There” when you cleaned the garage, mowed the lawn, sat on the steps, or when you would need someone to hug. Never in your wildest dreams would you expect a child to get cancer, especially your child. Then it happened, July 24th 2008, Cole was diagnosed. We watched him go through endless rounds of chemotherapy, surgery after surgery, and container after container of pain medications. He was battling a monster called Adreno-Cortical Carcinoma, a cancer which proved to develop a tumor the size of a gallon ice cream jug and which quickly spread to his liver, lungs, spleen, and inferior vena cava. However despite his battle his heart proved to display a greater amount of “Love” than I think I could ever give.

2. You received a groundswell amount of support during those eight weeks when Cole was sick, many stories of which you include in your book. What happened when word of his diagnosis spread?

The word of an innocent child battling for his life quickly spread from Cole’s family, to his community, and ultimately around the nation and world. The messages began pouring in…messages of hope, encouragement and prayers. Cole’s life and story began to be a living testament of the true values of life. Displaying what truly is important…with everyone realizing that through this child we are all able to search our hearts and lives and determine what truly is important. To understand that no one is guaranteed another day, as in Cole’s life he was only 3.

3. Cole, sadly, lost his fight against cancer. How has his death changed you and your family’s life?

Death- The word in itself is scary. The word with understanding is something that removes fear. Through the death of Cole I can no longer fear death. In fact I look forward to it, because of this… Our pastor mentioned at Cole’s funeral, ”you can’t loose someone or something if you know where that someone or something is.” Because of Jesus Christ and God’s love for me, I now am able to rest knowing that this life is not our home! One day we will be together again! We didn’t lose Cole in September of 2008.

4. After Cole died, you and your wife, Moireen, started a foundation in memory of Cole that now provides support to other families facing similar crises. Can you tell us a bit about COLE’s Foundation?

The mission of the COLE Foundation is simple: To provide outreach and support to the families of children facing cancer and create a public awareness of the needs and challenges faced by those families. The foundation focuses on developing programs of support services to provide families facing medical challenges. These programs include our Adopt- A- Family program which currently sponsors over 1200 children across the United States and abroad. It also includes individual programs like Send-A-Smile that focuses on bring a smile to a child through gifts and care packages.

5. You work with thousands of families who are battling life-threatening illnesses with their children, primarily cancer. What are some practical ways that people can support a family who is going through something of this magnitude?

The Internet provides a perfect and marvelous vehicle for individuals to send hope and encouragement through messages. It is absolutely amazing how much support a typed message can leave for families. Simply log on to Cole’s Foundation ( and visit the children’s Web sites who are facing unbelievable circumstances. On their Web sites, you are able to leave messages and prayers for families.

6. Through your ministry, you probably see a lot of death. How can we reach out to a family who might have recently lost a child or another loved one?

One of the programs we focus on is called Healing Hearts. It is specifically designed to minister to families who have lost children. Volunteers are always needed and your monetary support is welcomed in order to continue to send them baskets of love.

7. You and your wife know the Lord, and found your faith to be a great source of support when Cole was sick. What hope can you offer others going through a crisis, whether it’s a health crisis, a financial crisis or a devastating death?

Trust in the promises of God! He tells us that He will never leave us nor forsake us! That’s a promise He has given to everyone of us. We can completely trust in that and know that regardless of what circumstance we are in He will always be there for us. We just need to do our part! If we seek Him we will find Him, if we knock the door will be opened unto us! Trust in Him and keep your eyes focused on the Lord!

8. Is there anything else you would like to share?

Without the hope that is given to us in Jesus Christ this would have been almost too much to bear. I’m not saying it was easy but what I am saying is that with the knowledge of Jesus Christ we are able to live day to day!


I just finished reading this heart-wrenching story of a family and their journey through pain and anguish as they watched their sweet little boy struggle with cancer. The courage of this little sweetie and how he reached out to comfort his parents and his little sister is an image that I won't soon forget. In only 8 short weeks, their precious son Cole was taken from their arms. Yet through their pain and loss, God used this little boy and his parents to affect thousands of people.

Let's all love a little harder,
hug a little longer,
smile a little brighter,
and thank God for everything
that we have.

Read this book, and check out the Cole's Foundation website and do whatever you can to help support families who are dealing with childhood cancer and other terminal illnesses.

My rating - 5 out of 5

The printed book is only available online (Amazon, B&N, Christianbook, etc.) or via the Cole’s Foundation Web site. The audiobook is more widely available.

Thank you to Debbie Lykins of Side Door Communications for a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of review.

# Paperback: 220 pages
# Publisher: Xulon Press (May 2009)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 1607914441
# ISBN-13: 978-1607914440

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