Child's Battle With Cancer Inspires Song, Benefits CURE Childhood Cancer
Ryan Burton wrote "Sometimes You Gotta Fight" in honor of his stepdaughter and her battle with cancer. All the song's proceeds benefit CURE Childhood Cancer.
Life can change in an instant and for Ryan Burton that change came in fall 2011 when he learned that his two-year-old stepdaughter had acute myeloid leukemia. Burton said he and his wife Kathy felt helpless when he learned that Callie had a 50 percent chance of survival.
“When you experience something like this at the front-end of it (…) you go from planning your life and planning your future to really just living by the minute because everything stops and becomes about taking care of someone you love and this could be common through any situation like this,” he said. “You kind of immediately are focused on their wellbeing and very quickly you get into wanting to help and wanting to do something.”
Burton couldn’t cure Callie’s cancer himself, but he could lift up her spirits and he chose to do it with music. Inspired by Callie’s attitude throughout her cancer treatment, he began to write the song “Sometimes You Gotta Fight,” an upbeat “anthem of encouragement.”
“Early on we just felt very helpless and it was horrible and very quickly you just want to do everything you can,” he said. “So the process we went through with Callie, living in the hospital and spending 24/7 there for about six months, it was just something that I started working on that was inspired by other people at the hospital and Callie and my wife.”
But Burton thought the song could be so much more. He called his former band mate VANN and asked him to collaborate on the song. Originally from Canada, Burton and VANN performed in the band I.C. Red and opened for acts like Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
He also called Kristin Connor, the executive director of CURE Childhood Cancer, a nonprofit that seeks to eradicate childhood cancer by funding research and providing support to families. Connor and some of CURE’s volunteers had been supporting Callie and her family throughout her treatment at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. Burton told Connor he wanted to record “Sometimes You Gotta Fight,” sell it on iTunes and donate the proceeds to CURE.
“In the course of our conversations, Ryan shared with me his idea.” Connor said. “At that point he had been feeling sort of inspired to write a song I guess to express his emotions through music and had sat down with a social worker late at night one night and she suggested that he talk to CURE and partner with us. His intent was never to write a song to sell for himself. He was thinking about, ‘What can I do to fight back?’ and music was what he knew. He felt this inspiration.”
The project took off with the help of Reel2Reel Studios in Jonesboro who donated studio space to record the song. Burton even filmed a music video. And as the momentum behind “Sometimes You Gotta Fight” grew stronger, Callie’s cancer grew weaker. Burton said she’s now in remission and was released from the hospital in spring 2012. She even appeared the music video for “Sometimes You Gotta Fight.”
“If you’ve seen the video at the end of it she’s actually playing drums,” he said. “She loves it. She thinks it’s great. She knows what her song is and she loves it. I’m just so pleased that she has these memories and we’ll always be there for her. She thinks it’s very cool.”
Burton said he hopes the song can inspire people who’ve been affected by cancer and help CURE in its mission to eliminate childhood cancer.
“This is kind of a long-term thing for me partnering with CURE Childhood Cancer,” he said. “There are a lot of Callies. There are a lot of stories. It’s very real.”
“Sometimes You Gotta Fight” can be purchased on iTunes for 99 cents and 100 percent of the proceeds benefit CURE Childhood Cancer.