A Strong Supporting Cast

January 9, 2021

There they are: the faces and voices of dozens of comedy stars, wishing Elliott Goff well via video message. To Kim Mason, a child life specialist at Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital, there was no more deserving recipient. An active-duty member of the Air Force, Elliott was diagnosed with leukemia in 2019. In March, he tested positive for COVID-19. While Elliott was intubated and sedated, his father died from stroke-related complications. Elliott recovered from COVID-19, but the leukemia had a resurgence shortly after.

“Everyone was feeling helpless about what we could do to help Elliott and his family,” Kim says. The urge to help went beyond circumstances. It had as much to do with who Elliott was. “His spirit was incredibly strong, and he was so positive. Even on his worst days, he was making a joke.”

Adds Cheryl Goff, Elliott’s sister: “Kim is amazing. While Elliott was receiving treatment, she shared with us that she had lost her sister not too long ago, and we certainly felt a real kinship with her for many reasons.”

After Kim managed to get a video from Elliott’s favorite professional hockey player, they saw the amazing effect it had on Elliott’s spirit. Cheryl got to thinking: Why can’t we get the stars of Elliott’s favorite comedies, which he had been playing nonstop, to help him maintain his fighting spirit and keep that smile on his face?

Kim’s husband used to perform at a theater in New York with one of the stars from Elliott’s favorite comedy, and he had some old email addresses. It was a long shot, but Kim spent hours crafting individual messages explaining the situation and asking these celebrities to record a short video for Elliott.

Off the messages went, Kim hoping against all odds to get one, maybe two videos. It was a race against time, too. Elliott’s health was rapidly deteriorating due to the aggressive leukemia. The videos, if they came, had to come soon.

By 8 p.m. that day, 26 videos arrived from comedians across the country. Kim’s husband lovingly stayed up all night editing the videos together. Here was one famous comedian joking that he was going to be Elliott’s new grandfather, another crafting an impromptu song for Elliott on the guitar and yet another sharing behind-the-scenes details from Elliott’s favorite comedy.

“He was blown away by the video,” Cheryl says. “If all he had was 10 minutes of energy in the day, the fact that we got to see him smile the whole time when we showed him the video made every ounce of effort worthwhile for everyone.”

At age 27, Elliott passed away a week after the videos arrived. Kim says the experience was one of the most special moments of her career: “To give him a small moment of happiness was priceless.”

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