Alicia Keys Rihanna Seek Bone Marrow Donor For Broadway Star Shannon Tavarez
Singing stars Rihanna and Alicia Keys are calling on fans to register as bone marrow donors after being moved by a young Broadway star’s battle against cancer.
Shannon Tavarez, the 11-year-old actress who hit the Great White Way playing young Nala in the Tony Award-winning production The Lion King, was diagnosed with acute leukaemia in April and is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant to survive.
On Tuesday, representatives for the show announced that an event is being organized July 23 at Manhattan’s Minskoff Theatre so people can register with DKMS, which describes itself as the largest bone marrow donor center in the world with more than 2 million registered donors. Another bone marrow drive is set for July 18 at St. Malachy’s — The Actors’ Chapel, Encore Senior Center in Manhattan.
“At just 11-years-old, Shannon Tavarez already had a promising Broadway career performing four shows a week as Young Nala in ‘Disney’s The Lion King.’ Shannon juggled a full day of school before rushing to the Minskoff Theatre — she was living her dream,” read a release from King producers on Wednesday. “Now, just two months later, Shannon’s dream is simply to grow up and return to her normal life. In April, Shannon was diagnosed with acute leukemia. The talented young star was performing on stage when the symptoms first hit. Her lower back and legs suddenly started hurting making it difficult for her to perform or even walk.”
Shannon’s emotional cancer fight has struck a chord with two of the world’s best singers, A. Keys and RiRi. Last week, Alicia paid a visit to Shannon at New York’s Schneider Children’s Hospital to help lift the girl’s spirits. Keys — who will have a baby of her own soon — admits she has been touched by the child star’s story and is urging fans to sign up as potential donors, so the child and others like her can “grow up to live their dreams.” “For her, the sky is the limit, but now she’s fighting for her life,” said Keys. Rihanna has also asked her fans to help the cause before it’s too late.
“Tavarez should be performing on Broadway, but is confined to her bed, fighting for her life. She needs to find a bone marrow donor to survive. I urge all my fans to register (as donors). It’s the most beautiful thing someone could do, to give the gift of life,” the “Shut Up and Drive” hitmaker remarked in a statement Friday.
Tavarez is currently receiving daily chemotherapy treatment at the Long Island medical center as she awaits a bone marrow transplant. The young actress is well aware that a bone marrow transplant from a stranger may be her only chance at survival.
“When I found out, it hit me really hard, like someone was throwing a ball at me. It was shocking and I thought, why me?”