STILLWATER, Minn. - In the last several months, 17-year-old Zach Sobiech has made more than his share of life-changing choices, choosing to spend time with his family and friends, choosing to write songs and choosing to leave a legacy of lyrics and love.
Last week, KARE 11 caught up with the Lakeland teenager to learn how he's doing in his latest chapter. We found him recording and shooting videos for his latest songs, "Sandcastles" and "Star Hopping."
For Zach, it's a labor of love, as he begins to lose his battle against osteosarcoma. It's a labor that he takes both seriously and urgently.
"Every person helps someone in their life, but a lot of times you don't get to see it. And I'm in a situation where I get to see life changing constantly," Zach said during a break at the video shoot.
"I think that should be everyone's goal in life, just to change as many people for good as they can in their life. I obviously don't have as much time as I'd like to, so I just have to do it a little bit faster than everyone else," he said.
And no question, Zach has helped millions. In the few months since he released his song "Clouds," more than two million people have watched his video on YouTube. His story of hope despite dealing with a terminal cancer has inspired people all over the world, including drug addicts and those considering suicide.
"At that point, it's just like, OK, I have to keep doing this," he said.
And so Zack keeps making music, writing and recording songs with his band, "A Firm Handshake" -- including his writing partner and best friend, Sammy Brown.
"With Zach, I know he doesn't have much time left. And I've known that for a while. With that, you can't take anything for granted," Sammy said during their video shoot.
For Zach's parents, it's not a surprise that Zach has chosen to give generously in what they believe will be his last weeks. But the whole family could not have predicted the impact his songs would have on those who hear them.
"I'm so grateful that we get to see a little part of what this is about. Maybe this is obviously part of God's plan. And we get to see a little bit of it, because a lot of people don't," said Zach's mother, Laura.
"If you have that belief, it helps you think more of the eternal. Everyone is part of God's plan. There's a plan for you and sometimes it's a short plan and sometimes it's a long plan," said Zach's father, Rob.
For Zach, the choice is clear. He'll spend his last weeks with his close family and friends, including his girlfriend Amy, his friend Sammy, his little sister, Grace. And he'll spend his last weeks inspiring others -- with songs that leave a legacy of lyrics and love.
"It's not all about the music. It's more of how it affects people now. It's kind of my goal to reach out to people and inspire them," he said.
Zach's lyrical legacy started with the song, "Clouds," continued with his ballad, co-written with Sammy Brown, "Fix Me Up." The song is the title track for a 7-song EP. His latest video is "Sandcastles."
Several photographers and editors donated their time to help Zach achieve his goals of sharing his musical message, including: Mike Rominski with Woolly Rhino Productions; Erik Mickelsen and Colten Petersen with Mediagraphy; and Jeff Dunn and Ben Johnson with J Dunn Photography.
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