Friday, February 25, 2011

Lessons From Disney

At THON this past weekend many families, survivors and benefactors of The Four Diamonds Fund told their stories. Some were sad.  Some were happy.

Families who had lost children, told the story of how their love for their lost one so deeply connects them with The Four Diamonds Fund and how the selflessness of Penn State students keeps them coming to THON year after year.  We saw PowerPoint slides of numerous survivors, some of whom are giving back to THON.  But of all the emotional stories that tugged at our heartstrings; I didn’t expect the most empowering message to come from the voice of a Pixar robot, as told by a seventeen year old cancer victim.

“I don’t want to survive. I want to live.” – Wall-E

A seventeen-year-old kid, who has a reason to give up, and is himself on the fringes of life, taught over 15,000 college kids the importance of living.

Nick does not let his life threatening cancer hinder his ability to live.  Live for the moment. Live for the future.  Nick is living his life as a high school senior to the fullest by being valedictorian of his graduating class, student body president, and president of his school’s technology association.  Nick told PSU students, “it’s pretty clear cancer changes people worldwide. Have I let it change me? No.”

Do we live to our fullest everyday?  Do we let things change us? Are we so focused on surviving that we forget to live?

That simple saying spoken by a computer-generated image of a robot is exemplified in the life of Nick.  Something so simple, yet so misunderstood is a defining factor that separates human kind from robots and other lifeless creations. 

So how can we make sure we live for every day, as opposed to just surviving?  How can we achieve our lives’ full potential?  Is this something we have to figure out for ourselves? Or is it up to Pixar to explain it to us?


  1. The difference between truly living and simply existing is certainly an important one. Nick reminds me of the song "Live like you were dying." Taking advantage of the fact that his life is in jeopardy by truly living his life to the fullest requires an incredible courage. The rest of us should take note, and live our lives- it shouldn't take knowing your life might not be much longer to stimulate us to embrace every second. Carpe Diem- Sieze the Day.

  2. Wow. What a powerful message. I feel so lazy because I often take some of my days for granted and I am reluctant to go out and do things. Hearing stories of people like this really get to me, and I realize how lucky I am to be alive.