GONE TOO SOON: REMEMBERING TALIA JOY CASTELLANO
It is with great sadness we say good-bye to Talia Joy Castellano, the 13-year-old YouTube sensation who captured the hearts of people across the world with her trademark smile, soulful eyes and unbridled passion for life, even in the worst of circumstances. For more than half of her short life, Talia battled cancer.
After her cancer diagnosis, she quickly realized wigs were not for her, so makeup became her wig. When we first met Talia, she was a rising Internet star, racking up millions of views on her YouTube makeup channel.
One of Talia's biggest dreams was to meet talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. Just days after we released our story on Talia, Ellen came calling.
The two immediately bonded, even singing a few lines of Ellen's "Just Keep Swimming" song from "Finding Nemo" together. Ellen granted two wishes Talia didn't even know she had. For starters, she helped Talia become an honorary Cover Girl. Then, a few weeks later, Ellen sent Talia off to the red carpet to interview celebrities at the iHeartRadio Festival. Everyone from Gwen Stefani to Miley Cyrus to Aerosmith was immediately smitten with Talia. Click here to watch her celebrity interviews.
But it wasn't the attention of celebrities that Talia wanted most. She wanted the world to know how crucial it is to increase funding for pediatric cancer research. Talia made it her mission to tell everyone just how desperate the fight is to save the lives of thousands of children like her. Talia spent much of the past six months in the hospital, surrounded every day by her mother, sister and beloved dog Bella.
(Photo credit: Amanda Kern Photography, posted on Angels for Talia, Talia's official Facebook page)
Talia died this week, one month shy of her 14th birthday. Her family will host a private funeral this week and plans a larger, public tribute event on August 18th, Talia's birthday. Details will be posted on her Facebook page.
It's hard to find the right words when something like this happens. Perhaps Talia said it best in her conversation with Growing Bolder:
"This is not fair to me anymore. I'm only 13. I shouldn't have to do this. No one should have to do this. It's really not fair for kids to have cancer. We have the brains to figure it out, to find the cure; we just don't have the funding."
Talia, thanks to how bravely and passionately you fought to raise awareness, we know your legacy will be fewer children dying of this terrible disease.
Our thoughts are with everyone across the world who loved Talia. If you weren't lucky enough to meet her person, click here to watch our story on Talia and her fall in love with her infectious passion for changing the world around her.