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Bengals support former Brighton student through foundation

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● Published by Julie Slama

Current Brighton High students will raise funds for pediatric cancer patients and their families for the Tyler Robinson Foundation, honoring the former Brighton student. (Tyler Robinson Foundation website)

Brighton High Hall Monitor Kandi Rasmussen remembers one of her last conversations with former Brighton student Tyler Robinson.

“He thought he was in remission and was wearing a hat when he came up to me and said, ‘I was told I couldn’t wear a hat at school,’” she recalled from 2013. “I can still see his smile as a happy-go-lucky kid with little bits of his hair coming in from under the red baseball cap.”

A few days later, he died of Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and rapid-moving type of childhood cancer.

“He never complained, but always had the attitude to live for today. He was kind and giving — he even gave his Make-a-Wish to another kid. He gave me the gift of knowing I could do more than I realized because I wasn’t in the kind of pain that he and others with cancer have. I realized I could do something in his name,” she said. So she began running marathons, including Boston four times, in support of him and other “angels” who have died of cancer.

His family, with the help of the band Imagine Dragons, established a foundation in his honor, the Tyler Robinson Foundation, which helps support pediatric cancer patients and their families.

Brighton Student Body Vice President McKay Peery is coordinating the school-wide fundraiser for the foundation between November and January.

“A lot of Brighton families know him and his brother, who we’re coordinating the campaign with,” Peery said. “We went through a process of several organizations, but felt that Tyler, who was a senior at Brighton when he died, was very involved in the school and community, so we want to help pay it forward in his name.”

Peery said the school has a goal of raising $40,000 through various events, such as accepting online donations and receiving proceeds from restaurants on a school fundraising night, a Classic Skating night and an ice skating night at Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center, as well as donations collected at the school’s Battle of the Band competition, faculty versus students Dec. 4 basketball game, and a silent auction of items gathered by student clubs and teams.

He said at the auction, the baskets will have items from sports teams, including Utah Jazz, University of Utah and Brigham Young University; steak dinners being cooked by Brighton administration; reserved school parking spots; donations of theater tickets and music, including that of Imagine Dragons; and more.

The partnership between Imagine Dragons and Tyler began when Tyler’s brother wrote a message to the band, explaining his brother’s condition and that he would be at an upcoming concert, according to a video posted on YouTube. He asked if they would dedicate the song “It’s Time” to him.

Through months and years of treatments, the band stayed in touch with Tyler. After he died, they wanted to help inspire others and asked if they could work together to create a foundation with the family in Tyler’s name. 

Rasmussen, who also shared the love of the band with Tyler, said that as she ran her 22nd mile in her marathon after Tyler died, that song came on her playlist she was listening to.

“I became re-energized and motivated and knew in my heart that he was alongside me, giving me that encouragement and smile,” she said.  

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