"Strength isn't how much one can lift. Strength is how much one can lift others!" - Damon Billeck
Meeting Damon For the First Time
The first time we met Damon, he was on his way to present the Courage Award at the Sarcoma Foundation of America's Annual Gala, an award that he had received the previous year. Dressed in a tux with a yellow vest and bow tie - the color of sarcoma awareness - we were thrilled to meet the star of our Understanding Osteosarcoma comic book. Everything about him was inspirational, particularly his sunny disposition and eagerness to help others no matter how he was feeling. Whether recording a video with words of encouragement for others battling cancer, or delivering gifts to those in the hospital over the holidays, his desire to help others was evident in everything he did. Sharing his story with the world through our Understanding Osteosarcoma comic, in the hope that it would ease the fears others may have when diagnosed speak to this giant of human being.
The Importance of Spreading Awareness and Sharing Your Story
Having a medical condition can seem isolating. Each day we try to bridge that gap by providing resources that engage and, through the experiences of others, inspire.
The story presents Damon as a superhero (we’ll get to why later) and includes members of his family as well. Both on and off the page, Damon was truly his twin sister Dara’s very own superhero. A lover of Captain America, Damon was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at age nine, and passed away this spring, four years later. Reflecting on Damon’s participation in creating the comic book, his father shared, “that was his crowning achievement, he loved carrying out his story and helping others get through it.”
Damon was a hero to many, including the “real” Captain America, Chris Evans. Damon shared his comic with Evans, because, as his father says, “Damon wanted his hero to see him as a hero.” And Captain America did not disappoint when he autographed Damon’s comic book and continued their support for one another on social media.
July is Sarcoma Awareness Month. We remember Damon as we continue to fulfill his hope that other children and their families might benefit from hearing and understanding his personal and courageous story.