Proceeds from Zach Sobiech’s ‘Clouds’ are helping crowdfund a cure
Zach Sobiech, 18-year-old teen from Stillwater, Minn., was never far from his friends, and his guitar.
Upon his diagnosis of terminal cancer in May 2012, Zach turned to music in a big way – writing and performing songs as a way to say goodbye, at first to his friends and family, and then to the world when millions who became affected by Zach’s heartfelt lyrics and irresistible positivity in the face of adversity.
During one of Zach Sobiech’s hospital stays, he shared a room with a 9-year-old boy. Zach, who was 14 at the time, had been undergoing treatment for Osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer. His roommate had recently lost his leg to the same disease. Laura Sobiech knew the young boy’s struggles deeply troubled her son.
“He said, ‘Mom, if I had to die so that little boy could have his childhood back, I would do it,’ ” Laura recalled. “And he meant it. He wanted his suffering and his death to be for something.”
It already is.
Though he died in 2013 at the age of 18, the Lakeland teen left behind a legacy. Zach recorded “Clouds,” a farewell song for his family and friends. When it became a viral sensation, he designated proceeds from downloads of the song to osteosarcoma research at the University of Minnesota, where he was a patient.
Zach, you’ve lifted us all up, up, up…
created for you and Amy Adamle with love…akr
The Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund crossed the million-dollar threshold last fall. Since its inception, the fund has increased the U’s resources for research on osteosarcoma tenfold and fueled significant breakthroughs in understanding and potentially treating the disease — led by Zach’s oncologist.
A promising new drug will undergo clinical trials later this year and U researchers hope they’ll soon be able to design more effective, customized therapies that minimize the punishing side effects of current treatments.
“It is very healing to see that Zach didn’t die in vain, that this legacy of his will affect other kids in the future,” said Zach’s mom. “That’s what he wanted.”
With recent news of a movie deal that could catapult Zach’s fame even further, scientists at the U stand to make even greater strides. Already, the groundbreaking work has positioned the U at the forefront of osteosarcoma research in the United States.
“We are one of the major centers,” said Zach’s oncologist Dr. Brenda Weigel, division director of pediatric hematology/oncology at the medical school. “That was not true prior to the Sobiech money.”
When the U received the first gift from Zach’s fund, Weigel rallied colleagues to examine the disease across disciplines. It was the start of what she calls the osteosarcoma dream team.
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