Once upon a time, a blonde bombshell with a sensitive streak found a kindred spirit; a soulmate, of sorts. He had a head full of golden-blonde hair and eyes so blue they could stop traffic. It was a story of girl meets boy, and for all intents and purposes, was a love story, the kind people write songs about.
Maybe one song, in particular.
The difference between this love story and all the rest? The girl is singer/songwriter phenomenon Taylor Swift, and the blue-eyed object of her affection is Ronan Thompson, who passed away in May of 2011 after battling Stage 4 Neuroblastoma cancer. The song was titled "Ronan," and Swift wasn't penning her own love affair, but rather, someone else's: Ronan's mother, Maya, a writer, grieving mom, and self-described rebel-with-a-cause, who documented her son's brush with childhood cancer via her blog, Rockstar Ronan.
Typically, most refer to what Maya writes as a "blog." Some consider it an outlet for a mother in mourning, which, of course, it is. But what Maya Thompson really writes is a love letter. Love letters to her baby boy, who stole the heart of "America's sweetheart," Taylor, and who is set to change the world of childhood cancer forever. With the help of his mother Maya, it is Ronan and his legacy who will make pediatric cancer obsolete, beginning with The Ronan Thompson Foundation, a non-profit founded on the basis that the lack of awareness, funding, and research for pediatric cancer is intolerable. Currently, the foundation is fundraising to create a world-class Neuroblastoma research and care center. They believe, that for the sake of these children, things must change.
It seems people agree. With hundreds of fundraisers, from marathons to personal donations to the creation of Ronan's own "Spicy Monkey" SpiritHood, happening globally, those who have listened to Ronan, read the contents of Maya's heart spilled out on her blog, and seen pictures of this stunning little boy seem determined that Ronan won't be just another name on a list of statistics. Swift's song "Ronan" breaks the hearts of listeners, and with good reason. The statistics, as posted on The Ronan Thompson Foundation's website, are gut-wrenching: Childhood cancer is the number-one disease killer in children. The National Cancer Institute's (NCI) federal budget was $4.6 billion. Of that, breast cancer received 12 percent, prostate cancer received 7 percent, and all 12 major groups of pediatric cancers combined received less than 3 percent. Needless to say, Maya's words and Taylor's lyrics created a small storm; a whirlwind of people aghast at the truth of this disease, that's so much more than sweet bald children giggling in hospital advertisements. Ronan's supporters went as far as to construct a campaign to petition turning the White House gold in September, in honor of childhood cancer awareness. The petition, for reasons that don't seem logical or morally right, was rejected. But still, this storm of people are powerful in their thunder, and fueled by what they've read and heard, have been inspired to help in whatever ways they can.
Enter David and Jessikah Warfle, two compassionate listeners and readers who Ronan's legacy stirred into action. Jessikah first learned of Ronan's story via Swift's song, which led her to devouring Maya's blog. Jessikah was so moved, in fact, she opted to change her academic major from library science to early childhood development, going back for an additional two years in order to become a child life specialist. In her own words: "It wasn't until I read the statistics and how little attention and funding childhood cancer really receives that that three-year-old boy changed my life. My heart broke -- every kid deserves a chance to grow up."
The childhood cancer epidemic swiftly became Jessikah's cause, but it wasn't until she and her husband, David, returned from The Ronan Thompson Foundation's annual Gold Party that Rock for Ronan was born. Rock for Ronan is the fusing of two passions: David's love of music and their mutual desire to make a difference.
In short, Rock for Ronan is a musical compilation, with artists of all different styles and genres coming together to create an album. All sales from CDs and downloads will go directly to The Ronan Thompson Foundation. The Warfles recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to gain financial assistance with the production and marketing of the album, and to ensure that people all over the world know the extent of pediatric cancer's destructive force.
If you need to be reassured that good people still walk the Earth, look no further: Even if the Indiegogo campaign doesn't raise enough funds to fully finance the album, all collected money will go to The Ronan Thompson Foundation.
Ronan's reach is evident. Put simply, the story of one little boy's journey through cancer and his mother's heart-break-fueled refusal to accept current circumstance, has changed lives. Jessikah, who has the Foundation's logo tattooed on her arm, even says as much: "It's there to honor Ronan, to thank him for changing my life, to honor all these other kids that fight for their lives -- they are not fighting alone."
The old saying goes that the darkest time is just before dawn, when you see the light again. Perhaps the same can be said of people: In the darkest circumstances emerge those with the lightest souls, those with the rebellious nature and compassionate hearts to reject the givens and chase the dream, or in this case, the cure. Here are the people who transform the world. Here are the people who believe in the good, create the good, and champion the good, all the way to the moon and back.
Rock for Ronan accepts financial donations of all amounts, but if you cannot commit financially, commit your time. Be it a tweet, a mass email, or spending an hour researching the truth behind childhood cancer, do your part to turn this disease obsolete. Read Maya's blog. Live in a way that honors the millions of children who never got the chance to. Help create the miracle Ronan, and so many other kids, never got.
Swift sings in "Ronan," a phrase written first by Maya Thompson: He was her best four years.
Make sure the world knows about them. Make sure those afflicted with pediatric cancer get those years, and many more.
Light the world gold.
For more information on Rock for Ronan, including how to donate & get involved, visit: http://www.rockforronan.com/
To learn more about Ronan & The Ronan Thompson Foundation, please visit: http://www.theronanthompsonfoundation.com/
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