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By: T.J. Bickerton

Young supporter turns diagnosis into a mission for life

June 15, 2017
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It’s the diagnosis no one wants to hear: terminal brain tumor. If my doctor handed me this diagnosis, I’d panic and immediately start making a list of about a thousand things I still wanted to accomplish in the time I had left – and ending poverty in Africa probably wouldn’t make the list. Then again, I’m not Laurence Carolin.

Laurence was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor when he was just 13. When the Make-A-Wish Foundation learned of Laurence’s condition, they offered to make one his dreams come true. Originally, he wanted to meet the members of his favorite band, U2, but after some consideration, Laurence decided he had bigger priorities. What he really wanted was to save lives. Instead of arranging a meeting with Bono and the gang, Laurence asked Make-A-Wish to donate the money they would have spent on him to the United Nations Foundation to treat AIDS, TB, and malaria. He was quoted as saying, “I can accept dying, but I don’t want to die before there’s an end to extreme poverty in Africa.” 

Laurence’s story spread. Now, two years and a meeting with U2 later, Laurence is still passionate about ending malaria in Africa. He is receiving care from hospice at home, but others have taken up the cause in his name. His enthusiasm and dedication are contagious in his community where Nothing But Nets fundraising events are being organized at schools, churches, and restaurants. More and more people who hear about Laurence and his passion for ending malaria have chosen to send a net and save a life.

His mom says when she gets upset about his diagnosis and condition, Laurence says to her, “That’s not productive; you need a cause.” Laurence has his cause – ending child deaths due to malaria in Africa – and he is fighting to make that dream a reality. His mother, recognizing her teenage son’s wisdom, now says, “To have a cause … is a powerful thing. At any age you can claim something that you’re impassioned about.”

If my doctor handed me that diagnosis no one wants to hear, my thoughts and plans would be solely for myself; what I wanted to accomplish for me. Laurence Carolin is different, special. He only thinks of others. Even as his health deteriorates, he is still campaigning for the cause he believes in: “We must not allow one more child to die. We must stand tall.” Help Laurence in his quest by joining his NET-Raiser Team and sending a life-saving net to Africa for just $10.

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