Disease & Illness

These Teens Vowed To Help A Dying Friend Fulfill His Bucket List—And Ended Up Finding Him A Lifesaving Donor

What a beautiful twist in a bucket list mission!

What do you do when you find out your best friend has been given one year to live? Dillon Hill and Clay Stevens faced that heartbreaking news when their best friend Chris Betancourt got word that the leukemia he battled as a child was back with a vengeance. Without a bone marrow transplant, Betancourt would likely lose his battle with cancer within the year.

Both Hill and Stevens, ages 19 and 20, respectively, wanted to support their friend, and decided to take a giant leap of faith. The pair quit college and their jobs to help create and fulfill a bucket list for their buddy.

Little did they know that they were about to embark on an adventure that would capture national attention and lead them to life-changing discoveries.

In November 2017, the friends posted a short documentary about Betancourt’s battle and the inspiration for the trio’s efforts. And it all started with a powerful statement:

“Last month, my best friend called me and told me he was dying.”

As a way to document their quest to cross off items on Betancourt’s bucket list, the trio began One List, One Life: a website and YouTube channel to help keep a record of their accomplishments.

The trio’s original 127-item bucket list had everything on it from small, ordinary things to larger-than-life dreams, including:

  • Try the world’s hottest pepper
  • Have a pillow fight with complete strangers
  • Give homeless people food and water
  • Break a world record
  • Watch the entire “Lord of the Rings” trilogy back to back

As each goal was reached, they crossed it off the list. One of the biggest goals was to break a world record. Betancourt wanted the effort to have meaning, though, so the One List, One Life team came up with the idea to break the record for getting the most bone marrow donor signups in one day.

Betancourt, Hill and Stevens started a campaign to promote the need for bone marrow donors called Lemons for Leukemia. Just like the Ice Bucket Challenge, which helped raise awareness and raised funds for ALS in 2017, the Lemons for Leukemia effort went viral. The trio appeared on national morning shows and met celebrities such as Danny DeVito (which crossed another bucket item off the list, too).

Their efforts worked. On March 1, 2018, 3,715 people signed up to be a bone marrow donor — a world record. Eventually, more than 10,000 people joined the donor list in the trio’s name.

It turned out that the surge in donors provided a miracle that Betancourt was looking for: a match of his own!

Now that Betancourt is in treatment, he has decided to step away from his bucket list to focus on recovering in a more private way, according to his friends on the One List, One Life YouTube page.

However, Hill and Stevens decided to keep up the efforts of One List, One Life. What started as a personal journey for their friend has now become a way for these two young men to help other cancer patients in need.

“Something we realized very early on was we didn’t deserve any of the amazing things happening to us,” the men wrote on their website. “Chris was battling cancer, but so are thousands of other people across the world.

The hope for the One List, One Life team is to keep “building a legacy for our best friend by making bucket list dreams possible for other cancer patients.”

Right now, the pair is helping a 20-year-old woman named Lexi live her best life as she fights her own cancer battle.

We wish them the best of luck in their efforts to give back to others!