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Cooper fund to help women leaving abusive relationships

Friends of a slain Cary mother have created "Nancy's Butterfly Fund," which will provide financial assistance to women and their children leaving abusive relationships.

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CARY, N.C. — Friends of a slain Cary mother have created "Nancy's Butterfly Fund," which will provide financial assistance to women and their children leaving abusive relationships.

The fund is named in honor of Nancy Cooper, whose husband, Brad Cooper, is charged with first-degree murder in her July 12, 2008, death.

A man walking his dog found Nancy Cooper's body on the bank of a storm water pond in an undeveloped subdivision about three miles from the couple's Cary home. The 34-year-old mother of two was likely strangled, according to a medical examiner's report.

"Nancy’s Butterfly Fund" will be managed by Interact, a local nonprofit agency that provides safety, support and awareness to victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Family members and friends have claimed that Brad Cooper was emotionally abusive to his wife and cut her off from money, which made it difficult for her and her children to leave.

Organizers said their goal is to minimize the financial obstacles that may prevent women from leaving violent unsafe homes.

"Domestic violence is not always a broken arm or a black eye," Interact's executive director, Adam Hartzell, said. "She felt trapped, and so what we're trying to do with the Butterfly Fund is to make sure no one else feels like they're trapped in a situation."

The fund will provide financial assistance for individuals and families participating in Interact’s programs and services. Specifically, the fund may help with apartment and utility deposits, childcare, education, food, transportation and other basic financial needs and services.

"We believe that Nancy would be very proud and is probably looking down at us," said her friend, Jessica Adam. "She would be very happy we are doing something positive with our grief and our love for her."

The inaugural event to raise money for "Nancy’s Butterfly Fund" will be held June 13 at Life Time Fitness in Cary. The fundraiser will include a silent auction, live music, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Information on how to purchase tickets for the Life Time event will be released at a later date, organizers said.

Nancy Cooper, an avid runner, was a member of the club.

Organizers said they decided to call the fund the Butterfly Fund because in the days following her death, family members and friends kept noticing a butterfly in her neighborhood.

"A butterfly, both large and vivid, seemed to be a constant guest in our neighborhood, and it came to symbolize our departed friend," said Garry Rentz, Nancy Cooper’s father. "We have selected the butterfly symbol to memorialize, honor Nancy and to support victims whose lives are impacted by dysfunctional domestic violence relationships.”

To make a donation, visit www.interactofwake.org and select Nancy’s Butterfly Fund from the drop down list on the Donate page.

"If we can save even just one life, we feel that we've accomplished something," Adam said.

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