For three years in a row, I have spent one particular February night at a cafe in Dexter, Michigan surrounded by good food and music. The element that makes these nights special is the memory of one remarkable boy’s fight against extreme poverty, a fight that has been continued by a community committed to his dream of its eradication. February 2, 2013 marked the third annual “Airplane Day”, a celebration in honor of that boy, Laurence Carolin. When he was just a few months old, Laurence was adopted from Korea – and throughout his childhood, his family commemorated his arrival with Airplane Day, filled with friends, family, cake and candles, just like a birthday. Sadly, Laurence was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor at age 13.
To many people, this would be received as an end-of-the-line sentence, but not Laurence. Rather than be immobilized and consumed by grief, he was inspired. Laurence believed that it was our responsibility to help those who have limited means of improving their situations on their own. He hosted fundraisers for charities like Nothing But Nets and the United Nations Foundation, throughout the Dexter-Ann Arbor community.
When granted a wish from the Make-A-Wish foundation, Laurence chose to donate the $5,000 to the United Nations Foundation. This was something the Make-A-Wish Foundation had never seen before. U2 was so impressed with Laurence that they included him in their pre-performance prayer and signed his Gibson Les Paul guitar.
Laurence passed on January 15, 2010. We know he would be thrilled to see how much the message he believed in has spread throughout his community. We hope that his story will continue to inspire others to invest in a cause greater than themselves, making the most of their lives through helping others
*This story was originally posted on ONE by ONE Members Sam Griffith and Ali Bowman share the story of their young friend Laurence Carolin, who inspired them to start a ONE chapter at Dexter High School, then join ONE at the University of Michigan. It has been shared on the Nothing But Nets blog with their permission. Read more about Laurence’s gifts to Nothing But Nets and the UN Foundation.