Stephen Sutton's story is not one that will make you sob with grief and sadness. While certainly sad, his story is one that will inspire and elate you, put a big smile on your face, and remind you that the world is full of pretty amazing people. Sutton lost his life to bowel cancer last week, but the 19-year-old left quite the legacy behind. He managed to raise more than $5 million through JustGiving for Teenage Cancer Trust, a charity in the UK which helps to improve the lives of young people living with cancer.
Sutton was diagnosed with cancer was he was just 15. While it forced him to stop doing things like playing soccer and running cross-country, the diagnosis didn't stop him from making the life he had left really count. He eventually created a Facebook Page titled "Stephen's Story," in which he shared his bucket list with followers. The list included 46 items, such as skydiving, playing the drums in front of a big crowd and hugging an animal bigger than him. His adventures took him to playing drums at London's Wembley Stadium, hugging the trunk of an elephant and diving out of an airplane.
It was a selfie he posted on April 22nd that took his fundraising efforts to new heights. Many thought the post might be Sutton's last.
"It's a final thumbs up from me! I've done well to blag things as well as I have up till now, but unfortunately I think this is just one hurdle too far," he wrote, using the British slang to describe his previous triumphs over cancer.
In the 23 days that followed, Sutton met UK Prime Minister David Cameron and actor Ricky Gervais, and received more donations than anyone thought possible.
"I've always been a firm believer that people are 'good,' and to see people come together for the cause recently in the way they have is incredibly touching and heartwarming," Sutton wrote on his Facebook page. "Thank you from me, and also thank you from every young cancer patient in the future who will benefit invaluably from the money raised!"
See more of Stephen's story in the video below.