If there is one thing we love, it is seeing our favorite celebrities use their pop culture power for a good cause. If there is one thing everyone can agree to hate, it is cancer. Over the past couple years, this particular battle of good versus evil has been thrust into the spotlight by the Stand Up To Cancer foundation, an organization that raises funds to accelerate the pace of cancer research by challenging the world to unite in one movement and spread awareness. The campaign, which began in 2008, quickly garnered a great deal of attention and support from the entertainment community, evidenced in their celebrity filled PSA’s. Most recently, we have seen Ty Burell, star of Modern Family, serenading a woman in thanks for making a purchase with her cause-allied Mastercard, but we have also watched as the entirety of young Hollywood united to help change the odds.
Impressive and impactful as it is to see our favorite icons standing behind a cause, this week eight classmates in England secured the number one spot on the list of things that I love the most when they shaved their heads in support of 17-year old friend Tom Lee, who was recently diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma. In the video which dubs the act, The Big Shave, it is easy to see that all nine members of the clan- Tom Sneyd, Jake Vaughan, Harry Stobart, Ollie Knight, Mike Loughlin, Harrison Peck, Seb Pemberton, Alex Lloyd and Lee, himself- are nervous and excited as they draw straws to see who will first take on the clippers in their symbolic show of support. Post-shave, the young men were barely recognizable, but it was no matter and their nervousness quickly turned to pride. Even though the group wasn’t originally considering raising money to support teenagers with cancer, their selfless act of friendship has garnered over 5,000 dollars in donations for the Teenage Cancer Trust. The camaraderie and kindness that is witnessed in these young men is as impactful as an any PSA out there.
I believe kindness has a way of spreading like wildfire and sometimes, in the most magical of moments, people are committing sincerely heartfelt, altruistic acts at the same time, regardless of the miles that separate them. Over the last few days, the stars aligned and created one of these moments. While the bees were buzzing about the boys who went bald to unite against cancer, a small town was coming together to bring prom to a Tennessee hospital for a young girl who was too sick to experience the dance at the traditional venue.
An aggressive bone cancer, one which ultimately took Katelyn Norman’s life last week, prevented the young girl from attending her prom, a right of passage that was on the top of her bucket list. The illness, however, was no match for the strength of her community as they rallied around her, giving her the moment she had always dreamed of. With a decorated room, courtesy of the hospital staff, and a candlelight vigil being held by throngs of Campbell County residents in her honor outside the hospital room window, her date showed up, corsage in hand, to grant 14-year old Norman her prom wish.
Genuine kindness is often given without the expectation of anything in return; a simple wish to grant someone a feeling of warmth for no other reason than because they need it. Last week, eight young men from England and hundreds of Campbell County community members proved that kindness knows no borders and love is an international language. Neither party set out to acquire donations or public applause, but with the sole mission of doing something that benefitted no one but the person they knew needed it the most.
As we find gratitude in the heartfelt kindness that these two stories uncover, let us also spread a little love of our own. Passing on our most sincere sympathy to the family of Katelyn Norman as they grieve her passing; may they find peace in the contagious love they spread with the decision to ensure her last dance was a monumental one. As we turn our thoughts to the young men across the pond, we send love and strength to Tom Lee from the entire HelloGiggles community for a victorious fight; we already know that you and your mates are going to look good while you fight the good fight!
After all, our favorite celebrities were right when they sought to inspire by challenging, “It’s up to us to change the odds, for our generation. For the ones we love, for our future. If you don’t like the odds, stand up. Stand up to cancer.” Bravo to those who have stood up with unprecedented kindness; taken these words, made them their own and consequently become an even greater source of inspiration than could have ever been produced.