HOUSTON - Most of you knew the Bob Allen as the guy who appeared on your televisions each night with the latest sports headlines.
The Sunshine Kids knew a kinder, gentler side of Bob. He made them feel special, paying attention to their stories, their struggles, through every milestone of their journeys.
“To have someone like that tell them they’re important and their storie is important and special, I think he’ll never understand how much that did for all of us,” said Shelby Robin, a childhood cancer survivor who knew Bob through the Sunshine Kids.
Robin remembers the confidence Bob Allen gave her when she was just 12. She had been diagnosed with a rare bone cancer and her leg had to be amputated below the knee.
“Whenever he would interview me -- I have a prosthetic leg and I had no hair -- he looks you right in the eye,” Robin said. “He doesn’t care about any of that. He wants to get to know you.”
Robin and Bob had been friends ever since.
An unfortunate irony would bring them even closer more than 15 years later -- inside M.D. Anderson Cancer Center where Robin happened to be working as a nurse.
“I got to pop up there whenever he was getting treatment and kind of hang out with him,” Robin said. “And it was always so much fun because he would tell me story after story after story.”
The stories that she and other childhood cancer survivors now have to share about Bob, are the kind that instantly light up a room.
“I just turned 21 and he asked me if I ever tried scotch before and I was like, ‘No never tried it before.’ He introduced me to one of the finer things in life,” said Frank Velasquez, a childhood cancer survivor.
For Velasquez, that lighthearted moment came after three battles with cancer. It started when he was just 4. Velasquez said Bob was by his side from the beginning.
“Whenever we would hang out, just to be a friend was all somebody really needs in a hard time like that. And Bob was that person.”
That person who gave them the inspiration to never stop fighting and to always remember that their story mattered.
“The world is a little less shiny without him in it,” Robin said. “To lose someone like him for me, someone I’ve known for over 15 years, but that has seen me at my worst times and helped me through those times, he’ll always have a spot in my heart.”
If you’d like to contribute to the Sunshine Kids in Bob’s memory, click here.
(© 2016 KHOU)