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article imageSinger and cancer sufferer Keely Johnson releases debut single Special

By Adrian Peel     Apr 27, 2016 in Lifestyle
The talented teenager from Australia is battling a rare and incurable form of brain cancer. In 2014, she released a duet with Lee Kernaghan and is now back with her first solo single, "The Man in the Hat." She spoke to Digital Journal.
Keely Johnson's duet with Lee Kernaghan, Australia's biggest country star, was called "Turn This to Gold." The song hit number one on the country charts and helped solidify her ongoing friendship with her musical hero. Her new single, "The Man in the Hat," is a tribute to Lee.
Diagnosed with cancer at the age of 10, the 17-year-old humanitarian, who has dedicated her life to helping children affected by the deadly disease (particularly those in regional areas), has not grown for the last seven years. But rather than give up, she has set up a charity called the Golden Octopus Foundation, for which she plans to raise $1 million over the next eight months.
"It's my pride and joy," says Keely, who continues to receive growth hormone treatment, referring to 'The Man in the Hat.' "I wrote it when I was on chemo and yes it is about Lee Kernaghan - it's the story of his life. It is my way of thanking him for what he has done for me and everyone else.
"He did it tough before getting famous with his music and a lot of people don't know that. He even sold real estate for a while... He kept going though. That is what I mean in my song when I say 'against all odds he toughed it out.'
"To follow your dreams is what life's all about and I hope the song inspires others to follow their dreams. I have done it a bit tough too, but am following my dream of country music and also my foundation to help kids. Hopefully the words of the song will inspire children and adults to keep going even if they are having a tough time."
"The Golden Octopus Foundation was founded by myself and is run by a very professional committee," continues the Burdekin-based starlet. "Lee Kernaghan is the Ambassador and we aim to improve facilities in all regional hospitals and implement childhood cancer nurses across Australia, so children can stay closer to home for treatment and tests.
"These children are going through the worst time in their lives and don't need to be torn away from their families and friends as well. I hope to raise $1 million by the end of 2016. I raised nearly $400,000 for other childhood cancer charities before starting my own."
Asked about Lee Kernaghan and the song "Turn This to Gold," Keely replies, "Lee Kernaghan has been my hero and role model my whole life. I wrote 'Turn This to Gold,' a song about childhood cancer. Gold is the colour of childhood cancer and September is the month. I try to get as many people going Gold in September as I can, though I haven't convinced the Prime Minister yet...
"Lee is very kind and giving. He really cares about helping people and that is what makes him so special. He thinks of all his fans as family and that's why I put that in the song. My hope is to follow in his footsteps and raise enough money to help kids across Australia; to show them that no matter what life throws at you, you can achieve whatever you want.
"He is a country music legend and people will remember him for his singing and his kindness. I hope they remember me for the same."
"The Man in the Hat" is out now.
For more on the Golden Octopus Foundation, visit the charity's official website.
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