MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Twin Cities teenager who garnered national attention for a song he wrote after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer has died.
“With heavy hearts, we are saddened to share that Zach Sobiech passed away this morning,” was the message on Sobiech’s CaringBridge site. “Zach was at home and at peace with those he loved most. Zach’s life ended just as he lived, embraced by the love of his family, friends, grace and music.”
Sobiech was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2009 when he was just 13. He spent months in the hospital, underwent 10 surgeries and twice as many rounds of chemotherapy.
Last summer, he was informed he had months to live. He responded by penning the hopeful song “Clouds,” which got almost 3 million YouTube hits, earned him a songwriting contract, a tribute from Hollywood stars and concerts at First Avenue and the Varsity Theater.
He wrote the song as a thank you to everyone who stood by him during his battle with cancer.
“With my situation, it’s not like you can sit and be sad. It’s not fair to everybody else, and it’s not fair to yourself. Why not have some fun with the time you have left,” Zach said.
John Hallberg is the CEO of Children’s Cancer Research, which worked with Zach over the past year to ultimately raise $93,000 for the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund.
“There was something unique in Zach, in the way he approached it with maturity, with grace, with a sense of humor. And he said it many times – it wasn’t about him,” Hallberg said.
At Stillwater Area High School, Dan Ralston was one of the counselors on hand to help students grieve.
“Throughout this whole thing, Zach has had huge strength, confidence and acceptance on this disease that’s given a lot of his friends the strength to accept where they’re at and where he’s going after,” Ralston said.
CaringBridge said the Sobiech family wanted any memorial offerings to be directed to the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund in lieu of flowers.