Rihanna: Lending a Helping Hand to Save the Life of 11-Year-Old Broadway Star Shannon Tavarez
The platinum-selling music superstar is lending her name and using her influence for something other than promoting a product. The 'Pon De Replay' singer is urging her fans to help save the life of Shannon Tavarez, an 11-year-old star of Broadway's hit musical 'The Lion King' who was recently diagnosed with acute leukemia.
"Being a performer myself I know what it's like to be given the opportunity of a lifetime at a young age, and I would have been destroyed if that was taken away from me," the Def Jam Records chart topper and CoverGirl spokeswoman said. "Shannon deserves to live and share her beautiful voice with the world."
Rihanna, who Tavarez considers her idol, got wind of her plight and felt she had to do something to help – urging her fans to register with DKMS at WWW.GETSWABBED.ORG to save Shannon's life and the lives of other leukemia patient's life.
Tavarez, who performed four shows a week as young Nala in 'Lion King,' needs a bone marrow transplant. Her mother is African American, and her father is Dominican. According to a spokesperson, only 8 percent of the 7 million registered donors are African American, which means that only 17 percent of African Americans in need of a transplant will receive one.
"When I found out, it hit me really hard, like someone was throwing a ball at me," said the talented tween, who currently lives at Schneider Children's Hospital in Long Island, where she receives daily chemotherapy treatments. "It was shocking and I thought, why me?"Brought to America in 2004 by Katharina Hart, the organization's mission is to save lives by recruiting bone marrow donors for leukemia patients. More than 20,000 DKMS donors have helped save lives by donating their bone marrow. Founded in 1991 by Peter Hart in Germany, DKMS is the largest bone marrow donor center in the world with more than 2 million registered donors.
"When I listened to Shannon's voice, I got really sad. Her voice is so beautiful. She should be performing on Broadway, but she is confined to her bed, fighting for her life. Shannon needs to find a bone marrow donor to survive. I urge all my fans to register with DKMS," said Rihanna, who has close ties to DKMS.
The cost to DKMS for registering a new potential bone marrow donor is $65. DKMS does not make paying the fee mandatory, but it depends on public donations and appreciate any contribution.