05

Dec

Simon Cowell Becomes Advocate For Children’s Palliative Care

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Simon Cowell is best known for his no-nonsense approach to critiquing hopefuls on American Idol, but the music mogul is showing a softer side these days as he advocates for children with life-threatening illnesses. 

Cowell, who is currently a judge on the British version of the X Factor, has pledged half the profits from the winning single on this year’s season to Together For Short Lives (TFSL). The organization helps 49,000 children with life threatening or life-shortening illnesses by providing palliative care treatments, funding hospices, offering respite care and enabling them to live happy, fulfilled lives.

The TV personality began supporting TFSL seven years ago, but said his work with them has taken on new meaning since recently becoming a parent himself.

“Knowing you will outlive your own child is everyone’s worst nightmare and I am more aware than ever that it can happen to anyone,” said Cowell.

He first began working with TFSL by visiting a local children’s hospice, but Cowell was shocked to find that the atmosphere inside was anything but morbid.

“I was really expecting to feel sad but was so surprised that in fact it was the exact opposite. The moment I walked through the doors, I was greeted with warmth and a sense of optimism,” said Cowell. “Even though I could see how complex the situations were for the children being cared for, it was obvious these families were being looked after in the most loving environment, with nurses and doctors who were making sure they received the special care and medicines they deserved.”

Cowell has also developed lasting relationships with some of the children he’s met in hospice care. He first met Sian Tolfree when she was seven years old and eventually became her godfather. The girl, diagnosed with a rare congenital heart and lung disease called Di-George Syndrome, is now age 21 and still fighting her illness long after she was expected to live.

“She was only seven when I met her, but even at that age, she had such a big personality and an amazing sense of humour,” said Cowell. “Sian has suffered with so many ­complicated illnesses over the years – and she is still battling – but she never lets it get her down. I’m always getting text messages from her.”

Last May, Cowell was named Vice President of Shooting Star Chase, a children’s hospice care center in London. He hopes his work advocating for this and other similar organizations will raise awareness for the good work being done by them.

“I’ve formed a very close bond with people at these organizations over the years,” said Cowell. “I hope my ongoing role will encourage others to get involved.”