Shannon Skye Tavarez was born on January 20, 1999 in New York. At age 3, Shannon was enrolled in a performing arts program because she displayed an innate ability for singing and performing. She also excelled in academics and learned early on how to balance her studies with her love of performing.
Shannon later went on to study at the Harlem School of the Arts to further hone her craft. She performed at various local productions and at age 9 was encouraged by her voice coach to audition for a role in the Broadway production of Disney’s The Lion King! She was chosen for the role of “Young Nala” and at age 10, made her Broadway debut in September 2009. Shannon’s stage presence, beautiful voice and outgoing personality made a huge impact on all those that came in contact with her.
In the spring of 2010, Shannon began to experience flu-like symptoms, back and leg achiness and fatigue. After a few doctors’ visits and the persistence of her symptoms, various tests were run and Shannon was finally diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia on April 21, 2010. This serious diagnosis not only meant that Shannon had to leave the show that she loved but she also had to start rounds of chemotherapy and prepare for a possible life-saving bone marrow transplant!
Shannon’s attempt to find a perfect donor match would be difficult because of her ethnic background. Her mom is African- American and her dad is Hispanic. Due to a low registration of minority donors on the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry, this already difficult search became even harder. Shannon’s story began to run on the news and touched people world-wide. Her giving nature and contagious smile shined as she spoke publicly about her illness and the need for bone marrow donors. Although thousands were added to the national bone marrow registry because of Shannon, no one proved to be a match for our fierce young cub. On August 17, 2010, with no bone marrow match for Shannon, doctors opted to perform an alternative procedure using cord blood instead of bone marrow. Shannon continued to courageously fight her disease along with the many complications that followed after her transplant. Ultimately, Shannon passed away due to these complications on November 1, 2010 on All Saints Day.
Shannon’s spirit touched so many during her short life and her legacy will live on forever as our shining star……