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Zach’s Story

Zach was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in November 2009 at the age of 14. Like so many other kids diagnosed with osteosarcoma, Zach endured several surgeries and months and months of chemo.

In June of 2012 Zach learned that the cancer had spread and he had run out of effective treatment options.  He had maybe a year to live.

To say goodbye to his family and friends, Zach wrote a song called "Clouds" that was made into a video. The song and video went viral and have touched millions (11 million and counting) around the world. Zach's life was featured in an award winning documentary featured on the YouTube Soul Pancake channel called "My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech" - it has reached over 13 million viewers.

Zach died on May 20, 2013.

The week of Zach's death "Clouds" reached #1 on iTunes, as well as #26 on Billboard Magazine's Hot 100 list and #1 on Rock Digital Downloads. His band, A Firm Handshake, released several other songs written by Zach and his songwriting partner, Sammy Brown, on an EP called Fix Me Up. The EP also topped Billboard charts - #1 in the Folk category. And in September 2013, four months after Zach died, the Clouds video won an Upper Midwest Regional Emmy for musical composition/arrangement.

Zach's legacy of hope lives on in his music.

All of the proceeds from downloads of "Clouds" goes to the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund which funds a cutting edge research at the University of Minnesota by a team of researcher who have dedicated their lives to finding a cure for osteosarcoma.

To date over $1 million has been raised through Zach and A Firm Handshake's music and through private donations.

On May 6, 2014 a book  called "Fly a Little Higher" (Thomas/Nelson Books a division of Harper Collins)  written by Zach's mother, Laura Sobiech, will be released.

For more information about Zach's story and legacy, please visit the following websites:

http://www.childrenscancer.org/zach/

http://flyalittlehigher.com/

Latest Journal Update

A Year Further Away, and A Year Closer

Zach is never far.

Zach is never far.

Read more
So, here we are again, that time when we reflect.

It was a year of new beginnings, a year of joy, a year of struggle and a year of healing.

We have a new life to celebrate, a grandson named Finnegan Zachary. He brings us tremendous joy with his toothless grins and his hard earned giggles. His eyes remind me of his uncle's. Sometimes he looks at the portrait of Zach and the corners of his mouth turn down and he cries. We wonder if his tender heart, still so fresh from heaven, is sad at knowing he will not see Zach again for some time. I take comfort in knowing that Zach got to meet Finn before he came to us.

I spent the summer discerning what my next step in life would be. The book writing and promotion took most of my time for several months after Zach died. But things have settled some and I needed to decide how I would spend my time; go back to my old pre-cancer life, or try something totally new and different, something that would allow me to use what we have experienced with pediatric cancer and help others in their journey. I have to admit, going back to my old life of working at a job that I could leave at the end of the day sounded like a simple life I could get used to again. But, that just wouldn't satisfy the longing of my soul and to make certain that this world is a better place for Zach having been in it.

In October I accepted a position with Children's Cancer Research Fund as a Community Outreach Coordinator where I work with families, much like ours, who are journeying through a life with pediatric cancer. I have the soul filling task of giving them a place to share their stories (much like our family did) in meaningful, authentic and powerful ways. The gaping space in my heart that was left wide open when Zach died is filled every day with courageous children who are wise beyond their years and who show me every day what living a life of grace looks like.

I have been asked if it is difficult working with families and children who are fighting in the trenches now. The answer is yes. I know the fear they feel and I know the helplessness of a parent watching a child suffer. But, I also know, the purest joy can be found in the deepest suffering, and it is this joy that these families bring into my life. There are not many people on this earth who understand the value of life like those who are fighting for their children's lives and it is with these people whom I choose to share mine.

Three years ago Zach was asked how much money he would like to raise for osteosarcoma research. He said without missing a beat, a million dollars. On this past September 11 the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund reached $1 million and continues to grow! For a current dollar amount check here http://www.childrenscancer.org/zach/.

Watching the fund grow and reach Zach's goal has brought our family tremendous healing. We get to see how Zach's music and story continue to change the playing field of pediatric cancer research. I still cannot wrap my head around what that boy was able to accomplish in the last year of his life. His legacy will ripple through to countless generations yet to come. Life for children with osteosarcoma will be better because of Zach. What more could a mother ask for than for her child to give that kind of gift to our world?

So, here we are; looking back at what was, a year further away from him and the life we had. And, at the same time, looking forward to a future of hope that did not exist but for the sacrifice.

May you all find joy in surprising places this Christmas & and throughout the year to come.

Peace,
Laura



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Comments

34 Comments

Mary Henke
By Mary Henke
Well said.
Blessings,
Mary Nickels
By Mary
"At the same time, looking forward to a future of hope that did not exist but for the sacrifice." Yes, yes, yes. So much lost, sacrificed. But if not for your Zach, if not for my Mattie...I envy your position with Children's Cancer Research Fund. All I want to do is help.
Brenda Pate
By Brenda Pate
Congratulations on your new grandson! Being a grandparent is a wonderful blessing! Congratulations on your new position at the Children's Cancer Research Fund. I think you will provide a unique perspective in all your contacts with children, their families and friends that only you can provide. I have never believed in happenstance and I believe that tragedies in our lives can be used for good, especially as we reach out to others. God bless you and keep you in all your endeavors. Enjoy your little one, too!
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palisha ranjit
By Palisha
Hi Laura,
I just finished reading your book and I've never felt so much emotion in a book ever but after reading your families story, Zach's story, it's left me speechless. I admire you and your family being so involved and supportive in Zach's music and life decisions. I've had one loss to a dear friend of mine this year and I did not know what type of emotions to portray, so I always hid it because how does one mourn for someone they've known for years especially at the age of 20? After reading your book I realized that I should be open to how I feel and not let fear get to me. I've heard Zach's song three years ago, it was a really good song but I didn't know his story back then but now knowing his story, I re-listened to his song and I could tell and hear the sweet,sad but peaceful sound in his voice, his voice is comforting. I really do hope Zach's spirit shows up sometimes and I hope your family and everyone that's part of Zach's life is doing well, congrats on the new grandson! Keep having faith and never lose hope in anything, I'm pretty sure Zach would want the same. Have a wonderful start to your New Years and many more!
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Wayne Gary Pendley Skala
By Wayne Gary Pendley Skala — last edited
Prayers & blessing to your family during this post Christmas season and for the coming year. I think of the family members I've lost...many young like Zach to multiple causes...and other much older that lived a good long life. Either way, it's hard to lose our loved ones. I think the pain lessens a bit over time, but missing them for me seems to grow bigger. I shared Zach's story with so many of my family & friends because he was such an inspiration to me. Thank you for sharing Zach, his story & his family's story. Your continued updates reminds me to live life to the fullest & if there are "curve balls", make the most of it and know that God has a plan for all of us...although at times, we are full of questions. Peace & God Bless.
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Steph Shaw
By Steph
I often listen to Zach's music and find great comfort in his voice. It must be nice to hear him even just in song. Thanks for using your wisdom and insight to help other children and families in need. xoxo
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Steph Shaw
By Steph
I often listen to Zach's music and find great comfort in his voice. It must be nice to hear him even just in song. Thanks for using your wisdom and insight to help other children and families in need. xoxo
Barbara Fenton
By barbara fenton
You are all in my heart, love and prayers.
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Cyndi Cashman
By
I just can't thank you enough......all of you.....for what you have done for those of us with Sarcoma's and our families. Sharing what you have and continue to go through helps us in our struggles and triumphs. It encourages us and prepares us! It reminds us we are part of a bigger picture. It gives us hope. It reminds us to live each day like it is our last individually and as a family. It reminds us that giving to others helps us be a better person and feel better as a part of a "community". Thank you for sharing with us. Follow your heart....it will get you through the days!
Dee Heisler
By Dee Heisler
Laura, as I lay here reading Zach's story, your story, my own story is unfolding. My daughter Rylie Heisler was diagonosed with Osteosarcoma in October 2015. She is a Senior in High School, she is fighting this terrible disease with so much grace, I admire her strength. Ry is getting her treatments at the U of M also, we know we are in the right place and have faith that Rylie will beat this awful disease. It helped me to read your story, sometimes I feel so alone, as a Mom this is so hard. Knowing others have been on this journey helps.
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