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Utah teen's life and legacy inspires Imagine Dragons to create foundation

Published: Thursday, Feb. 27 2014 10:00 a.m. MST

Shannon and Brent Robinson wrote that Reynolds "called the experience 'magical.’” Tyler's brother recorded the moment on his cellphone and shared it on YouTube. The official Imagine Dragons "Demons" music video features the footage.

Tyler and the band kept in contact after the concert and throughout Tyler's chemotherapy. When the treatment was over, Tyler was declared cancer free. But early in 2013, Tyler unexpectedly slipped into a coma and passed away on March 4, 2013, at 17 years old. Doctors discovered the cancer had moved to Tyler's brain.

"They just said there was nothing they could do. It was kind of a blessing, even though it was really hard," Cole Robinson said. "After going through the chemo for a year … it would have been really hard to tell him he had to go through chemo again. So it was kind of a mercy in that sense. It was hard not really being able to say goodbye to him though; he never woke up from the coma. But you know, it’s just like a lot of great people. He’s doing more with his life than I’ll ever do."

After Tyler's death, the band contacted the Robinson family and told them they'd like to create a foundation in honor of Tyler. It became the Tyler Robinson Foundation, and the family hopes Tyler's goodwill and legacy live on through it.

"I hope he looks down and sees that he’s not forgotten," Cole said. "(I hope) that he sees that we’re using this opportunity to its fullest to help other people, and I think he’s really happy about that because he did a lot of good in his 17 years he was here, and we’re just going to use the rest of our lives to continue the impact that he had onto other people. So we’re just taking those years and we’re going to expand them."

Today, the Tyler Robinson Foundation assigns a financial adviser to families affected by childhood cancer. The foundation covers costs such as child care, rent, utility bills and travel costs for treatments.

"Our goal is to ease the burdens on these families during such trying times," Shannon and Brent Robinson wrote.

Everyone that participates in the foundation is a volunteer. The volunteers consist of family members, friends and people who simply heard about the foundation and wanted to become involved.

"We just want to help the families the way that he helped us as a family," Cole Robinson said.

The foundation is growing quickly, despite being less than a year old. Funding comes through concerts, fan donations and contributions from companies. Brighton High School raised and donated $20,000 for the foundation. The Imagine Dragons Fan Club France raised $2,000. Imagine Dragons fans at a Moscow concert threw white roses on stage in Tyler's memory. The band also recently hosted a benefit concert in Tulsa, Okla., on Feb. 22. The band donated 100% of the proceeds to the foundation, according to Fox 23.

Larger organizations have also been involved, according to Cole. Primary Children's Hospital has made it an officially sponsored foundation. Additionally, SAP and Optimal Solutions donated $27,000 to the foundation. SAP is also helping with the website and marketing plan and has made the Tyler Robinson Foundation its preferred charity.

Now, the family moves forward with faith that they'll be with Tyler again.

"I’ve come to a point where I have no other choice but to deepen my faith and believe because, more than anything at this point, I just want to live a good life so I can match what he did with his life and live with him after," Cole said. "His 17 years just wasn’t enough for me to be with him."

Alison Moore is a writer for the Faith and Family sections at DeseretNews.com. She is studying journalism and editing at Brigham Young University. EMAIL: amoore@deseretdigital.com

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