Photographer: Larry Hirshowitz Glam: Blondie for Exclusive Artists Management
July 15 marks three years for The Cameron Boyce Foundation, which Victor and Libby Boyce launched within nine days of the passing of their son, actor Cameron Boyce. Particularly known for his work with Disney, Cameron was also a passionate philanthropist already at just 20 years old and supported causes like the global water crisis and ending gun violence. As the organization hits its three-year anniversary, Victor and Libby opened up about continuing their son’s legacy, destigmatizing epilepsy and the future of the foundation.
On May 18, you held The Cameron Boyce Foundation’s first annual gala. How did it feel to have such a special evening celebrating Cameron and the foundation?
Victor Boyce: The gala was delayed for two years, mostly because of COVID, which actually in hindsight turned out to be a good thing because we were much more ready to do an event that we thought was worth what we're trying to achieve. And it was a phenomenal success in the sense that it was our very first one, it was extremely well attended, it looked beautiful.
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I was really blown away by the attendance because I honestly didn't have a huge expectation for what was going to happen because we've never done anything like this before and it was great.
TCB just had its three-year anniversary. In light of that milestone, what were your goals when you first started the foundation and how have they evolved?
Libby Boyce: Originally, the reason we started the foundation was really because we wanted to continue Cameron's philanthropic work. He was very very involved with bringing clean water to areas in third world countries and he did Make-A-Wish all the time and he was very involved with the Children's Hospital and going and visiting the kids there was so much work that he was doing around the creative arts and bringing opportunities to young people and encouraging them to find creative outlet. So that's where we started. We have now really begun to much more focus on epilepsy. We support a lot of nonprofits out there doing the things that Cameron was working on, like he supported Inner-City Arts and we support the Thirst Project and we support things that he was interested in. But our real focus is on epilepsy and curing epilepsy. So I would say that over our first year of our being in existence, we really refocused on epilepsy more holistically, as well as we became a 501 c3, so we are now an official nonprofit and that has lots of benefits in terms of bringing in a board of people who can work with us, including epileptologist and lawyers and people who have guidance for us around how we can increase our impact and, of course, including people who are living with epilepsy.
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How did it feel to make the $250K grant to Cure Epilepsy?
VB: It felt good, but it's only the beginning. Our organization is relatively small compared to others out there, but we know we have a big voice because Cameron's reach was global. So our goal is to dramatically increase those types of grants and funds and really be impactful because just one grant, that's good and all, but that's just the beginning for us.
You’ve done so much between fundraising, the gala and the Now What, among other initiatives. What are you most proud of about The Cameron Boyce Foundation?
LB: I think for me, I'm most proud of our village: the people that have been working with us who are killing it behind the scenes. We have a really, really good team that we're super proud of and we couldn't do this without them. I would say that and then secondly and, maybe more importantly, I think that Cameron would just be blown away by what we have been doing, what we have achieved.
VB: I think Cameron will be proud. Unfortunately, this is not something we ever wanted, but because of circumstance, we took it on and you know everything we do, Cameron guides us in the background. He's our motivation 100%. Our team is fantastic, but the motivation and the drive definitely comes from our son.
From various interviews and other images and videos of events like the gala, it seems like joy is so central. Is that intentional or just a natural reaction to honoring Cameron?
VB: That's what he radiated, and my daughter as well. Just joy and acceptance and love and tolerance, weirdness and goofiness— just all those things that make a good human. Not perfect, but flawed, which is great. That was a natural thing in our household. That was another reason why it's just so devastating for us. I mean, obviously he’s our son but he was really the light of everything that's happening around here and we can't let that just dim away.
In addition to donating, how can we support the mission of the Cameron Boyce Foundation?
LB:Well, they can definitely go to our website at the Cameronboycefoundation.org and look around. Everybody knows somebody with epilepsy. They could support those individuals. They could ask what they need, they could advocate on their behalf, educate themselves about epilepsy and certainly encourage individuals with epilepsy to advocate for their own health care. They can really just encourage kindness, encourage creative outlets, encourage participating in improving our world. Talking about it.
VB: One thing that we learned early on is that epilepsy has a real stigma to it, unlike other diseases like cancer or Parkinson's or any other kind of neurological disease. Epilepsy has a really bad stigma and people don't like to talk about it, but we're trying to change that narrative by talking about it and normalizing it in a sense so that people aren't afraid to reach out to talk about it. And that's how you get more research dollars. That's how you get more interest and eyeballs on the situation. And we really need to pull it out from the shadows, so to speak. Just talk about it, tag your posts about it if you know somebody or check out our Now What Campaign.
[Also], Libby wrote a poem that a friend of Cameron, Hailey Knox, actually turned into a song. It's called “Sun Bun Boy” and it came out amazing. It's very, very emotional and beautiful and it's available on streaming services and the money generated from that also goes to the foundation.
This interview has been edited and condensed. Support The Cameron Boyce Foundation here.
Photography by: Larry Hirshowitz