Celebs pay moving tribute to teen with 'weeks to live'
Last year, Minnesota teenager Zach Sobiech inspired millions with “Clouds,” a heartfelt song written in the midst of his battle against a rare form of bone cancer.
In a video released on Monday, a group of celebrities decided to send some inspiration back his way.
They took part in a moving tribute of his viral YouTube hit, lip-synching to “Clouds” in a video made for the Lakeland, Minn. teen who recently celebrated his 18th birthday. Stars like Bryan Cranston, Anna Faris, Sarah Silverman, Ed Helms, Jenna Elfman, Jason Mraz, the Lumineers and Rachel Bilson all make appearances in the video directed and produced by Justin Baldoni of Soul Pancake, a media company founded by actor Rainn Wilson of “The Office” fame.
“The Sobiech family is deeply touched by the response of the actors and musicians who participated in the 'Clouds' tribute and are grateful they are helping Zach raise awareness about osteosarcoma,'' the family said in a statement to TODAY.com.
Sobiech was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, when he was 14 years old. In June of 2012, he was told by doctors that he had months, maybe a year, to live. He turned to music for solace and performs as part of the band A Firm Handshake with friends Sammy Brown and Reed Redmond. His family has also set up the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund to raise money for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.
The celebrity-filled video had more than 420,000 views in five days, but still has some catching up to do with Sobiech’s original of "Clouds," which has garnered more than 2.7 million views since it was released in December. In a scene in an emotional documentary about Sobiech by Soul Pancake, Baldoni unveiled the celebrity tribute to Sobiech and his family.
“I told them I just wanted them to do something for you because you’ve done so much for us,’’ Baldoni tells Sobiech in the short film. “What resulted was something very special. I just want you to know that this stuff’s not happening because you’re dying. It’s really because of the way you’re living.”
“It really makes you want to keep on going,’’ Sobiech says after watching the video.
Since the tribute video was released, Sobiech's cancer research fund had received $5,689 through early Friday from 143 individual donors, according to Kelly Schultz, a spokesperson for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund. “Clouds’’ was also downloaded 4,106 times on Wednesday, the most downloads the song has ever had in one day, according to Schultz. Proceeds from the digital downloads go to support the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund.
Sobiech’s health is declining, according to Schultz, but he recently was able to celebrate his 18th birthday on May 3 and attend his senior prom at Stillwater Area High School a day later.
"It's really simple, actually,’’ Sobiech says in the documentary. “It's just, try and make people happy. Maybe you have to learn it over time, maybe you have to learn it the hard way, but as long as you learn it, you're going to make the world a better place.
"I want everyone to know you don't have to find out you're dying to start living."