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In Honor of Zach

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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, nearly $900,000 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 Time For Everything

Alli & Finn

Alli & Finn

Read more
I have an incredible life.

As the keeper of Zach's story, I have met thousands of people, through speaking engagements, book signings and social media, who have shared with me their own stories of how Zach's message of hope and love has changed them. Some have been affected in small ways and some in powerful ways.

Just weeks ago, a young woman from France named Aurélie, contacted me on my Facebook author page. Aurélie wanted to tell me how much Zach has helped her through her own battle with a brain tumor. She felt very connected to Zach, both of them having gained a lifetime of wisdom through their battles with cancer, and she thanked me for having shared him with the world. She asked if my book, Fly a Little Higher, was published in French as she wanted to learn all she could about Zach. It isn't, so I sent her a copy. With a tumor pressing on the back of her left eye and causing horrible migraine headaches, this French-speaking young woman managed to read an English book in just two days. When I expressed my amazement at her determination and endurance, she responded simply, "No time to waste!" She went on to share Zach's story, music, videos and the book with anyone in the hospital and beyond who would listen. 

Aurélie died on Tuesday morning at 12:06 a.m. Her funeral is today.

There are times in the hamster wheel of life that God's timing causes me to a halt and demands that I be still and pondered. Just twelve hours before Aurélie died, our first grandson, Finnegan Zachary Shoemaker, was born. He came to us three weeks early, but completely healthy and utterly beautiful. We are beyond grateful for this new little one who still holds the scent of heaven. My heart is filled to brimming with love for him, his mother, Alli and his father, Collin.

I cannot help but imagine Zach waving at Finn's send-off and then greeting Aurélie at her homecoming with a warm (and probably gangly and awkward/teenage boy) embrace. It is an image that causes me to pause and remember that there is a time for everything, that life is just one beautiful moment after the next and I must take time to be still and ponder. 

Peace,
Laura

For Aurélie's profound wisdom, please visit http://www.heartstoriesproject.com/blog/. She was a truly remarkable young woman who inspired me and whom I grew to love.





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Comments

21 Comments

sherry daida
By sherry daida
Congratulations on the birth of your grandson. His name is wonderful
Kayla Dickhoff
By Kayla Dickhoff
Congratulations on baby Finn! He was born on Jocy's 2nd "angelversary". Our family is camping this weekend but I drove home tonight because something just got to me. I can't even put my finger on it. Maybe because tomorrow, or today actually considering its 12:45 am, is the day a few hundred gathered at the high school to say final goodbyes to my precious baby girl! I don't know. Maybe it's because I know the family we're camping with won't say a thing about her just like they didn't on her bday (6/12) or her "angelversary". That's what hurts the most. These people she looked up to and loved so deeply seem not to care about her. I'm sorry to ramble.
I knew you had posted but like most times at the lake I had no service to check the posting! It's the first thing I did when I got home. Something told me I had to read it before trying to sleep and I'm glad i did. That makes two little ones I've heard of to enter the world on the day she left us. One of the gals who worked at our local cancer center where jocy had treatment had a baby the morning she passed. About 5 hours after.
I have your book but have yet to be able to read it. I really want to but each time I pick it up to start, I can't open the cover. I relive patches of jocelyn's journey vividly at times, and have a feeling I'll be plunged back into it if I do start. I know I'll eventually get to it, and maybe it'll be good therapy. That's my hope anyway. By the sound of it, it seems to be for some people. I'm sure I've already posted this some time ago but here it is again... I didn't know Zach but Jocelyn and I did get to see him and say hi one day while at radiation. I really wanted to get her to say hi but she instead played with the giant connect 4 they have there (that she never would play with before that day!) she liked to do the opposite of what I asked of her! That was one of her charms I guess. ;-) I think maybe she was a little starstruck as She had only heard clouds for the first time the night before and couldn't believe we were going to see Zach the next day! 😉 I said hi to him at least!
Thank you for being strong enough to write about Zach's journey with osteosarcoma and how it affected your whole family. And thank you for continuing to post here. I find strength from other bereaved moms who share their thoughts and feelings as I sometimes can't navigate my own very well. especially with two young boys who grieve the loss of their sister too.

Congratulations again on baby Finn! Love that name by the way. ;-)

Kayla
www.caringbridge.org/visit/jocelyndickhoff
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Carol Music
By Carol Music
Hello Laura, I don't know what is happening, but I've written two posts - both admittedly long ones - but when I post them, they disappear. So I WILL keep this short. Congratulations on the birth of your first GRAND. I love his name. It's a strong name and I can picture him - tall, strong with a beautiful spirit! Hmmm sort of like his Uncle Zach I think! It's wonderful that Finn will carry his uncle's name all his life!He will grow up hearing about his uncle and hearing "Clouds" so often!

I think the timing of his birth and the death of a young woman in France whom you just met weeks ago, but grew to love is NOT coincidence. I actually don't believe in them. I DO believe that everything happens for a reason and this one is that as well. I think God opened heaven's door for these two souls to travel through. She lived 12 hours longer than Finnegan's birth to make sure he arrived on earth safely and then she made her trek up to heaven through the same door. And yes, Zach met his new nephew and gave him a grand send-off and then went on to greet Aurelie and give her a welcoming hug.

My sister was an OB nurse for many years and died 23 years ago at the age of 46. I was devestated - I know you understand what I mean. She now has 8 GRANDS and I know she accompanied each one safely down to earth and I'm pretty sure she did the same with Finnegan! Just a gentle nudge to get them on their way!

I don't know if your family like Country Music, but Garth Brooks recently recorded a song called "mom". It's a beautiful story and know you would love it! It's on YouTube. Give it a listen and smile while you do!

OK !THIS time I've kept it short, which is no small feat since I am our family 'storyteller' - recording all things family . . . and more . . . so they won't be lost to time. Young people aren't interested in them, but as they grow, they also grow wiser and I know they will love most of what I've written! As you wrote 'you have an INCREDIBLE life and are the keeper of Zach's story, as well as that of your entire family.

Sending you my best wishes, blessings and love. Carol Music
Abby Brewer
By Abby Brewer
I remember sharing Zach's story with my students two years ago. One of my students' dad was diagnosed with brain cancer that year. I shared Zach's videos and added his song to our team video. One mom told me her son came home and shared Zach with the family and they all downloaded his song immediately. I still listen to Clouds daily. I had no idea you wrote a book or updated his page. I stumbled back on her because another student who had ALL years and years ago is now 20 and fighting glioblastoma. I thought I would look back at the "home" page and saw these updates. Zach was an inspiration to a class of 5th graders in Ohio. In my 16 years of teaching, they are my favorite. I think because of the bond we formed over his videos and music. I'm looking forward to finding your book. Your new grandson is perfect!
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Kim Vinar
By Kim Vinar
Your stories are so moving, full of hope and inspiration! Bless your heart and thank you Laura!
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Andrea Michel
By Andrea Michel
Your faith-filled depth of understanding regarding our Father's ways is so beautiful, Laura. I love to read your entries. They are very grounding. You keep Zach's story alive every time you write and continue to bless others with his life. Thank you.
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Valerie Maples
By Doug & Valerie Maples, mom to Nichole, Cindy, Jorge, and Drew in Heaven
God indeed uses everything, every detail in our lives....
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Kevin and Diane Gorder
By Diane Gorder
Congrats on the new baby Grandson to you all.
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Laura Sapp
By Laura sapp
Thank-you again Laura. And congratulations to all of you...a new baby for Alli! That's so awesome.
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Abby Brown
By Abby Brown
In my 'older' years, I have begun to notice the pattern of a high with a low - and remind myself that we can never be too over-zealous with joy over something wonderful without a reminder from a struggle to bring things back into a 'balanced' state. While in the gorgeous country of Idaho just a few weeks ago, a place I would live if I had more time in this life, I had two calls that brought me into back down into perspective (a broken collar-bone for my son, and an admin change at our little school.) The birth and death of these two special people in your life on the same day, and your perspective to "be still and ponder," again provides elegant words about powerful stuff. You are amazing, Ms. Laura - your son was a gift and so are you!
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