“The sun will come out tomorrow,” sings 11 year old Shannon Tavarez in a YouTube video posted July 9, 2010. If only those words had held truth for her. The sun is now rising for Shannon in heaven while her friends, family, and the thousands she touched mourn in the wake of her passing.
Shannon, who played Nala in the Broadway musical “The Lion King,” died Monday November 1, after a heroic battle with acute myeloid leukemia (aml). Throughout her life Shannon’s dream had been to be on Broadway, a dream that was replaced by the goal of simply surviving. Shannon will never get to rise to her full potential.
Though her life was short her legacy will truly live on through those who will now get to live because of her. Shannon’s campaign to find a bone marrow donor inspired thousands of people to register as donors. Unfortunately, due to Shannon’s ethnicity, Dominican and African American, her bone marrow match was never found.
This is the tragic reality for 83% of African Americans searching for a bone marrow match and for 6 out of any 10 people who are in need of a transplant. Sadly the registry is nowhere near as large as is needed and ethnic minorities are significantly underrepresented with only 3% being multiple race donors, 8% African American donors, 9% Hispanic donors, and 7% Asian donors.
I realize that most people who may read this post are not yet 18, and cannot yet register to be a donor. However, I urge anyone who reads this to please talk to everyone you know who is old enough to register. Registering is quick and painless. A simple cheek swab and its over. If more people were registered Shannon and many others may still be here today. Somebody’s life may depend on you.
"If you save one life it's as if you have saved the world”
To find out how to register visit these sites:
To find out more about Shannon and others like her visit these websites: