YouTube channel offers place to cheer up Washington County 9-year-old with cancer
A song that holds great meaning for 9-year-old Aidan Knox of Washington County contains the lyrics “Live the proof/We can create our circumstance/Live the proof/Nothing is ever left to chance.”
The song, “Live the Proof” by Jim Boggia, has become an anthem for Aidan and his family as the Bentworth Elementary fourth-grader fights a rare form of bone cancer. Boggia, a Philadelphia-based rocker, rerecorded the song specifically for Aidan, an act that inspired an effort to make every day Aidan has to spend in the hospital a little brighter.
Aidan's parents, Lance and Jamie Knox of Bentleyville, created a YouTube channel called “Songs For Aidan,” where musicians and artists can submit music videos for their son to watch.
“Music lifts his spirits,” said Jamie Knox, 38.
The project started in November. Twenty-five videos have been uploaded since, including songs by individuals, bands such as Pittsburgh's The Danzas, and others, including an a capella group, the Compulsive Lyres, from the University of Michigan.
Some perform covers of popular songs, and some submit original work. Bentworth's first-grade class contributed two songs, “Jingle Bells” and a Valentine's Day medley. Steve Burns, former host of one of Aidan's favorite childhood shows “Blue's Clues,” sent a song called “Mighty Little Aidan.”
“I do like to see the new videos,” Aidan said from his bed last week at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC in Lawrenceville. “I like them all. I don't know which one is my favorite.”
Doctors diagnosed Aidan in September with Ewing's sarcoma, a disease that affects about one in 3 million children in the United States, according to his oncologist, Dr. James Cooper.
“Aidan is wonderful,” said Cooper. “He's done really phenomenal with the journey he's been on.”
That journey has been difficult. Aidan, who wants to learn to play the trumpet, is receiving intensive chemotherapy and radiation, which can require him to be in the hospital for five days at a time. He gets homesick and sometimes a little sad. He misses his dog, Champ, and playing with his little brother, Dylan, 4.
He lights up when he gets a new video, especially when the artist introduces the song with a message wishing him well.
“He smiles in a way we don't really see him smile anymore,” said Lance Knox, 38.
Joe Nadberazny, 34, of Washington , drummer for the pop-punk band The Danzas, has known the Knoxes for several years. The band's song, “Invisible Mohawk,” is a tribute to the hairstyle Aidan sported before losing his hair during chemotherapy. Nadberazny, who said he takes strength from Aidan, has also offered the budding musician a few drum lessons.
“He's a great little kid,” Nadberazny said. “It's been fun for me, too. I'm learning from teaching him.”
Brandon Schott, 36, a Los Angeles-based musician and cancer survivor, submitted his song “Turning Toward the Sun.” It will be featured along with Boggia's “Live the Proof” on a CD the Knoxes plan to release Feb. 26 to raise money to buy games for the hospital's Child Life Department's activity centers, rooms where hospitalized children of all ages can relax. The release coincides with Aidan's 10th birthday on Feb. 24.
Schott said it was “impossible to say no” to Aidan. His own five-year anniversary of being cancer-free will occur at the end of the month. Schott wrote “Turning Toward to Sun” when receiving treatment for a tumor in his chest that had spread to other organs.
“It's an opportunity for me to go back and revisit the song from where I am now,” he said.
Schott said he was moved “beyond words” to be part of such a meaningful project.
“It's such a life-changing time,” he said of undergoing cancer treatment. “Part of the way to heal is to have music in the story.”
Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.