Sept. 15 was a special day and night for Hoda Kotb and Billy Bush, who was sitting in for Kathie Lee on the popular morning talk show “Today.” A week prior, the pair of friends had discovered that they shared the same favorite live concert — Zac Brown Band — so it only seemed fitting that they attend a show together. Only that wasn’t enough for the big-hearted duo.
Enter Sue Garbe, whose son Scott had been diagnosed with leukemia at age 15, and Kathy Tejada-Rivera, whose young daughter Casey had a rare lymphoma that developed at two sites. Both mothers had sacrificed their time and well-being to care for their children. With some help from the Tomorrow’s Children’s Fund, Hoda and Billy were able to surprise them with a trip to Charlotte, North Carolina to attend the Zac Brown Band concert.
But, a bigger surprise was in store that even Hoda and Billy didn’t know about.
At one point in the evening, Zac went to the back of the stage and when he returned to the spotlight, he was escorting a beautiful young girl named Briana Shirley. Briana is legally blind and has autism with Asperger’s syndrome tendencies, but that certainly didn’t impair her ability to sing “Colder Weather” with Zac.
As she was taken off stage, Hoda and Billy rushed to meet her and neither could control their tears. As she started to tear up, too, Billy asked her, “Do you know that we’re crying,” and she replied, “Yes, I do.”
During the next morning’s show on Sept. 16, Hoda remembered the moment saying, “It shows you how much we communicate without seeing. She felt the crowd. She felt everyone around her. I cry thinking about it. You do one of those cries like I’m watching ‘Beaches’ at home alone in my living room with snot coming down. There was a point where it was so bad, it didn’t matter.”
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, so wear a gold ribbon for those babies who are battling the fight of their life. And Briana? Keep it up, girl!