Back in May 2013, my life changed forever. A fan wrote to let me know that a teenage musician named Zach Sobiech, who I had written about earlier in the year, had just passed away from a rare cancer. Zach had written a song called “Clouds” about coming to terms with his imminent death. Cancer is personal to me, you see, as I’ve lost many people, including my father, to it. My mom has hers under control. My son will inevitably have to do something to make sure he doesn’t get it. It hit too close to home.
The day Zach passed, I went online to see if I could find any more videos about him to honor his memory, and I discovered an amazing short documentary about his brief but beautiful life. I spent a whole day crying, having flashbacks to my father’s passing, and made sure it could reach as many people as possible. It was the biggest hit we ever had. 20 million people have seen it. People emailed me from all over the globe to talk about how his story affected their lives. Parents tweeted me about their lost children. Upworthy readers helped raise $450,000 for the Children’s Cancer Fund. “Clouds” became the first song by an independent artist to reach the top of the iTunes music charts. And I got to know a wonderful team of people who actually knew and loved him.
I’m sad I never got the opportunity to meet him. But 5,000 people who did know him got together to create a giant choir in the middle of the Mall of America. Then they sang his song, which debuted a year ago. The couple in the middle are his wonderful and supportive and brave parents. And I, once again, have become a weepy mess.
Here’s the thing about rare cancers like osteosarcoma, which Zach died from. Because it’s so rare, research studies often are chronically underfunded and receive much less in donations. The Children’s Cancer Research Fund, which you should totally Like on Facebook, needs every opportunity it can get to really crack this disease. Is there any way you could do me a favor and donate to their research fund in Zach’s name? It’s totally up to you, but I’d owe you a billion.
And maybe you could share this? Then I’d owe you a trillion.
BONUS: You can also buy this song on iTunes! The song is available world wide and Rock the Cause Records is donating 100% of the net to Zach’s Osteocarcoma Fund.
UPDATE: You guys are amazing. We’ve raised over $5,000 already. If you want to contribute still, click here.