Gone Too Soon--Shannon Skye Tavarez
A friend of Shannon's noted, "she had a powerful sense of joy and energy and really shined in her performance, which allowed her to connect with so many people. Her favorite saying was " Live it, Love it, Juice it".
It was a sad day,Monday November 8, 2010, when family, friends and fellow performers gathered at The Greater Allen
A.M.E. Cathedral Church of New York for the funeral of 11 year old star, Shannon Skye Tavarez, who played Young
Nala in the Broadway play "The Lion King".
After only 7 months of performing in the play ,Shannon was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), blood cancer, on April 21,2010. She lost her battle with AML on November 1,2010.
Shannon, a young soprano from Queens, New York, remembered as being very talented and inspirational, selflessly ran an active campaign from her hospital bed, where she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for AML, to bring attention to the disparity in the number of "Ethnic Minority" (African American- Latino American)bone marrow donors in the United States. Alicia Keys, Rihanna and 50cent were inspired to host a donor drive for Shannon.
In addition 50cent launched a video bone marrow drive, "Help Her Live Her Life". They signed up 4,000 blood donors in 2 days. Two bone marrow drives were also held at The Minskoff Theater, "The Lion King's" Broadway home. Unfortunately Doctors were unable to find a bone marrow match for Tavarez and hoped that an alternative umbilical cord transplant , from The National Cord Blood Program at The New York Blood Center would work.
Her struggle prompted more than 8,000 people from across the United States to sign up as bone marrow donors in a campaign in her name. Hundreds of mourners watched a videotaped poem by Shannon. She prophetically said, "We are happy and sometimes sad. It always hurts to go, but we do start a new beginning, so I bid you goodbye."
The Lion King Cubs sang "Shadowlands/Never Can Say Goodbye". Tracey, a parent from P.S. 176 where Shannon attended
school, said "I knew her from 2nd grade she always pushed to be a star,she always had a goal. Her life was so brief, she touched everybody".
"She would sit in the dressing room and sing to me" said Carol, a "Lion King Cub", I said "you sound amazing, she would just smile and say thank you".
A friend of Shannon's noted, "she had a powerful sense of joy and energy and really shined in her performance, which allowed
her to connect with so many people. Her favorite saying was " Live it, Love it, Juice it". Marquis Rodriquez, former actor in the
role of Young Simba, read a letter from South Africa that said "you were remarkable, don't forget the many people you inspired".
Caretaker and friend, Steven Codrington use to cook for her and help her do her science projects.
"She was a magnet, extraor-dinary, she reminded me of something that I forgot about myself,charisma and humor.
She knew how to peek into your world". In the eulogy, Reverend Dr. Elaine M. Flake said "she was here for a purpose and she
served her purpose".
Shannon Skye Tavarez was born on January 20, 1999 to Odiney D. Brown and Jose Tavarez at Albert Einstein Hospital in the
Bronx. She was a natural born talent, as was noted in her day care center years at "Kids For The Future". By the age of 3 she
was singing, dancing and acting at The American Dance and Drama Studio and later attended The Harlem School of The Arts.
Her voice coach at Harlem encouraged her to go on her first open audition at The Apollo Theater in Harlem, for the role of
Young Nala in the Broadway play "The Lion King", "and she booked it". At the age of 11, Shannon juggled rehearsals, played
four of eight shows on Broadway a week in "The Lion King".
Her obituary reads that "she remained dedicated to achieving excellence in all her endeavors ...even as a student at P.S. 176 in Queens, she maintained honor roll status," and "she always displayed an enjoyment and vigor for life that showed through her sunny personality and bright smile," and that Shannon enjoyed school "and displayed leadership qualities by serving as Vice President of Student Government in the fourth grade. ...She cherished travelling; her favorite trips were to The Dominican Republic and Jamaica, West Indies."
Odiney D. Brown only had one child, a star, in the name of Shannon Skye Tavarez; we thank her for sharing Shannon
"Speaking Truth To Empower."
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