Stephen Sutton was a young man of extraordinary spirit. Sadly, he passed away last month after a four-year battle with cancer… but not before he made an incredible impact on the world.
After his cancer diagnosis turned terminal two years ago, the 19 year old from Staffordshire in the UK launched a fundraising appeal with a target of £10,000. This was in support of the Teenage Cancer Trust, an organisation devoted to improving the lives of teenagers with cancer. Little did he know, just how successful this campaign of his would turn out to be.
Putting the fundraising efforts aside, part of the beauty in Stephen’s approach to life was that he was not only about doing things for himself and people he loved… he wanted to make a difference in the lives of strangers too. That’s why last year he ran a ‘Good Gestures Event’, which involved young people in Birmingham giving out free high-fives, hugs, handshakes and fist bumps. The aim of the event was to spread as much positivity and smiles as possible. This year it became an even bigger event – check out this video of Stephen’s great idea:
Stephen’s simple determination to live his life while living with cancer inspired many others around Britain. He created a bucket list and actively started ticking things off that list. He helped spread awareness to other young people, including being a guest speaker at the Teenage Cancer Trust Conference last year where he told his story with a sense of humour. As always, his positivity was astounding. In his speech, he said:
“I don’t see the point in measuring life in terms of time anymore. I’d rather measure life in terms of making a difference.”
Stephen’s fundraising campaign really took off about a month before he passed away when he posted what he thought was his last goodbye on his Stephen’s Story Facebook page.
From his hospital bed, amidst tubes and a breathing mask, he bid farewell, thanked his family and friends, saying he was in ‘a good place mentally and at ease with the situation’, with a big smile and a giant thumbs up. This photo of him (pictured above) went viral and his story spread across the globe. His already growing reputation exploded and he got more media coverage, social media presence and even a visit from the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron!
At the time of his passing, Stephen’s fundraising campaign for the Teenage Cancer Trust reached £4m. Yes, that’s right… I said FOUR MILLION POUNDS!
The Chief Executive of the Teenage Cancer Trust, Siobhan Dunn, believes that the difference Stephen has made is immeasurable. “How fitting it is a young person with cancer proved the catalyst to supporting many more young people with cancer, now and in the future.”
When Stephen passed away on May 14th, yellow balloons and ribbons were put up around his home town in remembrance of such a remarkable life. And, what’s more, last weekend, thousands of mourners paid respect to this courageous young man at a two-day service held at one of Britain’s biggest churches, the Lichfield Cathedral.
So, this Thank You Thursday, we give a good ol’ thumbs up to Stephen for his courageous approach to life and his ability to inspire others. You are a true hero of happiness, Stephen.
And, of course, our deepest sympathies to your family and friends.
See you in the pond,
The Fish Chick.