I never met Sophia Vlasman.
That doesn’t stop me from thanking her for what she’s done for me, for you and for our community.
Sophia was the inspirational teen whose long battle with cancer inspired her friends and family, her classmates at UCC, and eventually people in Chatham-Kent and around the world. She passed away Friday.
Her determination not to let cancer rob her of the person she was resulted in the hashtag #HopeStrengthCourage.
A concert in her name raised more than $10,000 to have a room named in her honour at Ronald McDonald House in London.
Six months ago, Pines students created a video tribute to Sophia using Katy Perry’s “Roar” as its theme music. Since that time it’s been viewed more than 40,000 times on YouTube, has been endorsed by Perry, and featured in People Magazine.
She touched far more people than she’s ever met and she did so in a positive and uplifting way. It’s a rare accomplishment for someone so young.
Sophia united this community in caring for her, and now mourning for her. In a place that can be very cynical, she showed us the beauty of life, the optimism of the young and the power of faith in our fellow humans. When thinking of Sophia, we put aside our petty problems and insignificant issues to make a wish for her safe journey.
She showed that how we live and how we face adversity is far more important than the final outcome.
Her mother Jodi showed a tremendous amount of courage in her own right by posting information about Sophia’s condition online. The tens of thousands of responses it received within a few hours showed just how many people grew to care about a very special young woman.
She told the story in words no one else could match.
Wherever your journey takes you, Sophia, please keep all of those who cared for you in your heart. You’ll never leave ours.