Michael “Wippa” Wipfli is embarking on a touching “fight” — raising money in the name of an inspiring teenager who sadly lost his battle with cancer last year.
Wippa and Cooper Rice-Brading formed an unlikely bromance after the young sportsman visited the Nova studio in 2016, following his diagnosis with rare bone cancer called osteosarcoma.
After Coops lost his battle at just 18 last August, Wippa has decided to run City2Surf in his honour and raise funds for the charity he formed to help other sufferers before he died.
The Nova presenter and dad-of-two told Be exclusively the disease took Coops “in the prime of his life”, adding he felt it was his duty to carry on Cooper’s legacy.
“It took me by surprise how quickly things happened with Cooper and on a personal level, as a father of two boys, it was confronting to see what this disease can do,” he said.
“Cooper was a very active, very gifted sportsman who was cut down in his prime as a young man and it all happened far too quickly.”
Despite their bromance being cut heartbreakingly short, the 38-year-old explained he was “amazed” at the teen’s positive attitude to life.
“The strength he had knowing the battle he had on his hands, I really took something from that,” he said. “I learnt a lot about bravery from Cooper.”
Wippa — who is one half of Nova 96.9’s comedy duo Fitzy & Wippa — was so moved by Cooper, he became an ambassador for the Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation and MC’s the charity’s inaugural event last March.
“He fought cancer with such pride and bravery that I admire him beyond belief,” Wippa explained. “That’s why I want to continue to help out and am an ambassador for the charity.”
“It’s so important to me because he started something so special and it’s my job to make sure we continue Cooper’s fight.”
In the short time the unlikely pals had together, Wippa described how they got on from the moment they met.
“We got on like a house on fire and we kept in touch,” Wippa said. “From there we just became great buddies and spent time together watching sport, we’d go to movies.”
Sadly, he also saw the teen in the “tougher times” and would go with wife Lisa to see Cooper in hospital.
“It was great just spending time together, as blokes do,” he said.
It’s not just Wippa who is ‘Running for Coops’ at the annual 14km run in Sydney this year, with the radio host calling on listeners to join them in the race as part of Team Nova.
“Coop was a budding sportsman, like an absolute champion on the field,” he said. “He loved his sport and wanted to be involved in the City2Surf this year, but unfortunately things didn’t play out that way.”
Cooper already raised $500,000 from his own hard work for the foundation before he passed away.
If you would like to know more about the effort or to donate, click here.
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