Zach Sobiech passes away

Cancer claims SAHS senior weeks before graduation

Zach Sobiech strums his guitar for his senior picture. The 18-year-old Stillwater Area High School senior died Monday after a long battle against Osteosarcoma. (Photo courtesy of J. Dunn Photography via Children’s Cancer Research Fund)

Zach Sobiech, a Stillwater Area High School senior who used music to chronicle his fight against cancer, lost his battle to the disease Monday.

Sobiech died Monday morning at his home and at peace, surrounded by family, friends, and music, according to a statement released by the Sobiech family.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our son, Zachary David Sobiech. Our family has been blessed, not only by his amazing presence in our lives, but also by the love and support of our family and friends and by so many people in the community. In particular we’d like to thank those people who listened with their hearts and helped Zach bring his message and his music to the world,” said Sobiech’s family in a statement.

During the last months of his life, the 18-year-old Sobiech chose to give a message of love, hope and helping others with the establishment of the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund and the release of his music.

Sobiech’s music, infectious lyrics and simple tunes have imprinted on the minds and hearts of millions around the world. Sobiech’s song, “Clouds,” made his battle with Osteosarcoma public when it became a YouTube sensation.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Zach’s family and friends,” said John Hallberg, CEO of Children’s Cancer Research Fund. “Zach Sobiech faced his cancer diagnosis with grace and strength. His music touched millions, and he leaves a lasting legacy that will help other young cancer patients through the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund. Zach once said ‘You don’t have to find out you’re dying to start living.’ He taught us all how to live, and we are all better for having known him.”

The University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital that cared for Sobiech and his family released the following statement:

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of Zach Sobiech. Zach and his family inspired all of us as they confronted his diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Zach gave so much of himself to others and we all were touched by his amazing musical talent. We thank Zach for showing the world what kids can do and bringing awareness to a devastating disease.”

Dr. Brenda Weigel, MD, led Sobiech’s treatment.

“It’s been hard, knowing him over the whole journey, but he’s faced his journey with maturity beyond his years. I remember him always bringing his guitar to treatment. It was a solace for him through the long days and long nights. I always knew that he loved music and it’s what kept him going. He developed into a young man who developed his dreams and continued to persue them despite his cancer diagnosis and it didn’t stop him. He used his gifts to raise awareness of a rare disease that he so passionately wanted others to not face. He told me a lot that he hoped something good came out of all this and that epitomizes Zach,” she said. “He has an amazing family and support is so key. They were always with him and allowed him to live his dream and gave him and us as well an amazing gift.”

Sobiech is survived by his parents, Rob and Laura; siblings Alli (Collin), Sam and Grace, along with Zach’s many friends, teachers, classmates and others who have suffered a tremendous loss.

“The Stillwater Area Public Schools community is mourning the loss of a beloved student, classmate and friend.” said Stillwater Area Public Schools spokeswoman Carissa Keister. “Zach has been an inspiration to people around the world as he heroically battled a rare form of cancer. As a member of our school community, Zach has made us proud. He will be greatly missed.”

Counselors and support services are available to students who would like to speak to someone. There is no school memorial planned at this time, but Keister said conversations are taking place with the family about honoring Sobiech at commencement.

Stillwater Relay For Life chairwoman Lois Raboin expressed her sadness over the news of Sobiech’s passing. This year’s Relay, scheduled Aug. 2-3 at SAHS Pony Stadium, was dedicated to Sobiech and his family.

“Well, just complete sadness for his family. It’s been a long road for them,” she said. “Hopefully, Zach’s at peace.”

Raboin believes Sobiech’s music will continue giving cancer patients, survivors and their families hope.

“His music is going to live forever. Everyone who hears ‘Clouds,’ they’ll think of Zach,” she said.

Raboin said Sobiech’s family will participate in Relay For Life ceremonies and she plans to ask the family to bring copies of Zach’s CD to sell at the event.
“His family was gracious enough to say they would participate and speak at our luminary-lighting ceremony,” Raboin said. “We will be playing his songs throughout our relay. We will play his songs at the luminary ceremony.”

“It’s hard because no one should die from cancer at 18,” Weigel said. “It’s not fair, and dealing with cancer can turn into anger and into so many different things. But Zach took the route of ‘I’m in this situation but maybe some day it will be better for someone else.’ ”

The funeral and visitation for Sobiech will be open to the public and details are now released on his CaringBridge page The family has requested that the funeral details not be released in the newspaper but on Sobiech’s CaringBridge site.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund.


  • Susan Nutt

    There will never be words eloquent enough to comfort you as you grieve for your amazing son. Thank you for sharing him with all of us. He made this world a better place to live and we all know his passing left a hole in the world…and in our hearts. My husband and I will be praying for you all. Our deepest sympathies for your profound loss. -Susan and Glenn Nutt

  • Jerry and Patty Bunton

    To the family and friends of Zach Sobiech,
    We did not know Zach personally, although we have SAHS alumi children, so knew of his illness and struggles. We cannot say anything to comfort you more than Zach said to you. He is an amazing young man, wiser than his years, and stronger than he should have had to be. We are awed by your strength and love of each and humbled by his and your message. Your family is a testament to what we all should strive to be, and anyone who has watched his “Last Days” video will work to create and keep. Our prayers will be directed for your family and friends comfort, knowing that your son, brother and friend will be your angel always.

  • Doni

    Heartfelt condolences to Zach’s family. What a special
    Person to have shared his brief but so fullfilled life. May
    We all begin to truly live our lives from the words that
    Zach has left behind. I downloaded his clouds song and
    Will keep it as a reminder that our time on this earth is
    Precious and to live life to its fullest. Rest in peace
    Zach knowing you have touched so many lives.

  • Jerry Price

    When my son 17 last year I found out that he had Type 1 diabetes. In some ways he favors Zach. The (fear) I had when I found out something was wrong comes back to me when I look at Zach’s documentary. Zach is an amazing young man. I wish (as we all do) that he could have had his envisioned dreams and the envisioned dreams that you all had for him. He has touched so many though this documentary. He obviously has a great love inside him. I am very proud for you all and very proud that I had the opportunity to meet Zach though it only be by video. There are no more words that I can say, but be at peace Zach my brother and peace to your family and friends.

    Jerry Price
    Lynchburg, Virginia

  • adrii

    Ummmm I am a 14 year old qirl && todayy in science class we watched zachs video clouds && mr && myy class really qot touched by his kindness && his courage but we will love to send a msg to zachs familyy && I will love for his mom or dad yo please help us with an # or address because we will love to send a letter about your outstandinq son

    School:roberto clemente

  • Carson Barrett

    The impact Zach had on not only me, but thousands through his video is such a blessing. I cannot stop thinking about what an amazing person he was. No words can help soothe the pain of losing him but know that you all are in my prayers. Please know your son really touched many lives. God bless.

  • Rosemarie Kowalchuk

    Today, on FB I had the opportunity to view Zach’s video. I cannot adequately put into words how he touched my heart and soul. He truly is an inspiration and I am so saddened by his passing but if I learned anything by watching him in his video he would want everyone to celebrate his life and as well our own!! As he showed all of us life is precious and we should live it to the fullest extent! Cheers to you Zach…I will never forget the courage and determination of such a wonderful young man!

  • Julie Treadway

    What courage Zach showed! I saw his story on Fox Internet. We just found out my 12 year old grandaughter has a mass on her brain and I hope to show her the story of Zach so I hope it will stay on Youtube a while.
    Thank you for having the courage to share your son with others. You are truly in my prayers.

  • Michael Grumke

    What a wonderful son and brother. You must be so proud of zach. I cannot tell you how his song clouds affected me. My thoughts and prayers to your family.

  • Sharon Rohrich

    I was deeply touched when I saw Zack’s story on face book today. What a wonderfully loving, caring, courageous, close family. Just as his family was very blessed to have Zack, Zack was equally blessed to have such a special family. We only need to look up, up, up to the Clouds to hear him play is music.

  • shauna koeck

    what a beautiful soul.

    i was having a bad day. making it worse i saw horrible things on the news that i couldn’t unsee. my heart was heavy. i told my husband i needed something good to counteract the sadness. i had seen the documentary in my facebook feed earlier in the day but had no time to watch it… until last night, after putting our baby to sleep.
    of course, it was also sad, and made me cry. but almost in a good way. zach was a truly incredible person, with a very rare spirit. but your family and friends have that same spirit, and are all clearly filled with the same lust for life and love as zach was.
    today my baby girl and i have been dancing around the house with Clouds on repeat.
    i am so sorry for your loss.
    thank you all for sharing your story and emotions with the world! you have touched millions.

    zach knew exactly what a lucky guy he was.

    xoxo, love from Bavaria.

    shauna tsali and basti koeck.

  • Barbara Whisman

    The first time I heard of Zach was such a short time ago but he had this way of letting you in right away. I grew to love him and will miss him terribly. You raised an amazing Rob and Laura. I think you all are amazing. My thoughts and prayers are with you both and your son and daughters. Zach left an incredable legacy and I know how proud you are. God be with your family.

  • Steven G. Rhodes

    I was inspired by Zach’s honesty, strength, and Kind Heart.
    One of the most Courageous Souls I have ever seen.
    His Understanding and Unconditional Love is without measure.
    Saddened for Your Loss.
    With Praise, Gratitude, Love and Compassion…

    Steven <3