Zach Sobiech, the terminally ill Minnesota teenager behind the viral YouTube goodbye video, died Monday after a lengthy battle with cancer.
At 14, Sobiech was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. After rounds and rounds of chemotherapy and multiple surgeries, his treatment options were exhausted. Last May, he was given a year to live.
As a way of saying goodbye, Sobiech started writing songs. His first, "Clouds," became a monster hit on YouTube, garnering more than 4.5 million views and spawning a lip sync cover featuring celebrities like Bryan Cranston, Rachel Bilson, Rainn Wilson, Sarah Silverman, Jason Mraz, and Anna Faris.
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"I fell down, down, down into this dark and lonely hole," Sobiech sings. "And we'll go up, up, up, but I'll climb a little higher. Go up in the clouds because the view's a little nicer up here, my dear… Maybe someday I'll see you again. We'll fly up in the clouds and we'll never see the end."
"Our family has been blessed not only by his amazing presence in our lives, but also by the love and support of our family and friends and by so many people in the community," the Sobiech family said in a statement. "In particular we'd like to thank those people who listened with their hearts and helped Zach bring his message and his music to the world."
Through his music — "Clouds" is currently No. 1 on iTunes — Sobiech has raised nearly $100,000 for cancer research
, with another $10,000 expected to come from the royalties from digital download sales, according to the Star Tribune.
"His music touched millions, and he leaves a lasting legacy that will help other young cancer patients through the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund," John Hallberg, CEO of the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, said in a statement. "Zach once said, 'You don’t have to find out you're dying to start living.' He taught us all how to live, and we are all better for having known him."
Sobiech, who would have graduated June 8, received his diploma last month.
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