A Minnesota teenager who died May 20 from a rare form of bone cancer has become a global role model for others battling serious illness. Zach Sobiech’s song “Clouds” is a viral hit, reaching Number One on at least one digital music chart, but it made a bittersweet debut this week on Billboard’s Hot 100.
“Clouds” was inspired by his girlfriend Amy Adamle and written as a goodbye to friends and family when he learned he had only months to live. Sobiech’s singing partner Sammy Brown and girlfriend Amy will talk about Zach and his inspirational folk ballad today on the @KatieCouric show on CBS.
Amy’s mother is Great Bend native Mary (Holt) Adamle. Bob Holt of Great Bend is her uncle.
It took a few days for Amy to speak out after her boyfriend’s death. She was silent for two days before responding to all of the Facebook messages: “Thank you to those of you who have reached out in this difficult time. Sorry I can’t respond. I love him and miss him dearly.”
The young singer was diagnosed with the osteosarcoma in 2009. Thanks to help from a radio station in St. Paul, Minn., other promotions and Zach’s own inspiring attitude, “Clouds” went viral and a video on YouTube has been seen by millions of people worldwide. Downloads have surpassed 156,000 on iTunes.
Rock the Cause will donate net proceeds from the download of “Clouds” to benefit the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund at Children’s Cancer Research Fund to help find new treatments and a cure for the disease. There is also a link at the Children’s Cancer Research Fund website for direct donations.
A longer video, “My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech,” was released May 3 on his 18th birthday. It shows Sobiech living life to its fullest and maintaining a positive attitude.
“I was ready for college,” he says. “I’ve been told I have a few months to live. ... I want everyone to know, you don’t have to find our you’re dying to start living.”
The video was produced by Justin Baldoni for SoulPancake, the multi-platform media company founded by Rainn Wilson of “The Office” fame.
Earlier this month, several stars joined his friends and family in recording a tribute video set to “Clouds.” It features, among others, Ashley Tisdale, Colbie Caillat, Anna Farris, Jason Mraz, Sara Bareilles, Jenna Fischer, Rachel Bilson and Phillip Phillips.
“Zach did quite a lot in the little time he had left,” Mary Adamle said. “A lot of people learned from him.”
Since it’s not being promoted by a major record label, only a few radio stations have picked up the song. But Bob Holt said he’d love it if a local station started playing it. He knows young people are hearing it on the Internet; Holt was surprised to hear it at a recent karoke night at Charlie’s Place in Great Bend. The DJ said it was a favorite song of his.
Bob Holt and his wife Tammy met Sobiech one time, at a family wedding in Kansas City on Dec. 8, 2012, but they both experienced what one teen video blogger called the “Zach Sobiech Effect.”
“In just a few moments he changes your life, he really does,” Bob said.
“It’s been an incredible story,” Mary Adamle said. “He’s left a lot behind for people to appreciate.”
In “My Last Days,” Sobiech tells viewers, “I want to be remembered as a kid who went down fighting – and didn’t really lose.”