Shannon Tavarez

I love to see people live their dreams whether on vacation or at home. But sometimes, that dream is all too fleeting.  All 11-year-old Shannon Tavarez wanted to do was perform on stage. She beat out hundreds of children in an open audition to win the role of Nala in The Lion King on Broadway.


The sixth grader lived her dream for seven months—until she was diagnosed with leukemia this past April. Shannon died  this past week. In her memory, The Lion King dimmed the marquee lights at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre, Tuesday, Nov. 2.


Shannon was unable to find a suitable bone marrow donor, though  celebrities including Alicia Keys, Rihanna and 50 Cent appealed to their fans to register as potential donors. Minorities are terribly under represented in the donor registry which makes it tough to find appropriate donors, experts said. It can also be harder to match donors for mixed ethnicity patients. Shannon’s father is Hispanic and her mother black.


“Shannon’s strength and her happy, positive spirit will live on in our hearts and minds each day,” said her mom Odiney Brown. “Shannon’s dream was to perform on stage, and that she did. We are grateful for the ongoing support from her Lion King family and the Broadway community. 


“Shannon wanted to recruit people everywhere to ‘get swabbed’ and help save the lives of those in need of a bone marrow transplant.  In her memory, our family and friends will work tirelessly to carry out her wish through  It is our hope that Shannon’s legacy will continue to inspire other brave children battling leukemia.”


It only takes a few minutes to “get swabbed.”  Please consider it.