We all have something special inside of us that makes us stand out against the rest. Some people are extremely intelligent, some are highly artistic, and others can run faster than the wind. But this little boy stood out for something completely different than being smart, or good at sports. This little boy stood out because, despite the tough hand he was given, he was an unbelievably kind and giving little human.

Holiday Season

Since 2004, a special event takes place during the holiday season in different Dutch City’s main square. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country come out to watch the celebration, and they talk about it for weeks.

The Glass House

This well-known event is for charity and it’s called Serious Request, or "The Glass House,” depending on who you’re talking to. For one week, different DJs from the radio station 3FM lock themselves into a glass house together to play music for everyone to see and be a part of.

Music And Fun

During the week, participating DJs dance with the crowd while they hang out with visiting celebrities. It’s hard to be in the eye of the public, especially when you’re in a glass house, but these DJs have a bit more to worry about than being under the watchful eye of the public.

Music And Fun

DJ Shifts

The DJs, who take turns sleeping for six hours at a time, aren’t allowed to consume food while they’re in the glass house. But they are allowed to drink coffee, smoothies, and water during the week-long event. Despite dealing with a lack of food, the DJs still put on a great show while they hang out with guests and fans. They may get sick of smoothies, but there hasn’t been one DJ that has regretted donating his life for a week to a good cause.

DJ Shifts

Npo

The Mailbox

One of the greatest parts of the glass house is the mailbox. But this mailbox isn’t just for fan mail! Fans can use the mailbox to request a song, which they’ll put in an envelope, along with a cash donation. As of late, the event has become so widely known that people start raising funds to put into the mailbox many months before the event even starts.

The Mailbox

Red Cross Donations

Any money that the event collects goes straight to the Red Cross, but they make sure to have a different focus for the donations every year. In the past, Serious Request has earned money for mothers that have died during childbirth, separated families, youths in war zones, and awareness for sexual assault survivors.

Red Cross Donations

Red Cross

"Laat ze niet Stikken"

The Serious Request slogan for 2016 was “Laat ze niet stikken,” which is translated to “don’t let them suffocate.” Their goal was to raise money for those that live in the poor communities of Africa who suffer from lung infections like pneumonia and bronchitis. But this event didn’t go the way that it was planned.

"Laat ze niet Stikken"

ficthork / Instagram

A Man And His Son

When they were only in the glass house for one day, a man stepped up to the mic outside of the house with his young son. They offered a little over $115, and with the attention on him, the man began to tell the story about his little boy.

A Man And His Son

3FM Gemist / YouTube

Tijn's Story

He explained that his son, Tijn Kolsteren, was just six years old when he was diagnosed with terminal brain stem cancer. He continued by explaining that it is much worse for many children in third world countries that live less than 6 years.

Tijn's Story

3FM Gemist / YouTube

Last Wish

Tijn's last wish was to help other children so they wanted to challenge people to have their nails painted for one euro. After hearing Tijn's story, the DJs agreed and let Tijn fulfill his wish by painting fingernails and raising money for the cause.

Last Wish

3FM Gemist / YouTube

Supportive Family

Tijn’s family was obviously heartbroken by Tijn’s diagnosis, but they were more than 100% supportive of his idea to donate money to the Serious Request event. His parents donated to Serious Request before Tijn was even born. So, with his parents and brother by his side, Tijn began to paint an endless number of nails.

Supportive Family

Omroep Brabant

DJ Support

DJs Frank Van Der Lende and Domien Verschuuren from 3FM were enthralled by Tijn and his dedication to help other people. Not only did the Djs invite him into the glass house to visit with them, but they also talked to everyone who would give them the time of day about Tijn and his nail polish, urging the Dutch nation to follow through.

Long Line Forms

They DJs created a small hole in the glass wall so Tijn could continue painting nails. Before they knew what was happening, there were hundreds of people lined up to get their nails painted. Some of them even waited for hours in the cold rain to have their nails painted by the inspirational child.

Long Line Forms

3FM Gemist / YouTube

Nails By Tijn

There were plenty of celebrities visiting the glass house that wanted their nails painted by Tijn. The little boy didn’t have enough time to paint everyone’s nails so people painted their own nails and donated money in his name. But the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was one of the lucky ones to get his nails painted by Tijn. Thanks to the prime minister’s support, even more awareness was raised for the cause.

Nails By Tijn

3FM Gemist / YouTube

#HeelHollandLakt

Using the hashtag #HeelHollandLakt, which means “all of Holland polishes,” people began posting all of their Tijn-painted nails on the Internet. Thanks to being featured in major newspapers, there wasn’t one person who wasn’t aware of who Tijn was. He was even referred to as a “real-life superhero” by many media outlets.

#HeelHollandLakt

Medal Of Honor

Tijn was rewarded when he returned to his hometown. After a few days of being famous, he returned to his home where he was given the youth medal of honor by the mayor of his county. Even though Tijn had just been in a crowd of people donating his time and money, he needed to get some rest because he was still extremely sick.

Medal Of Honor

3FM Gemist / YouTube

Miss Montreal

Even the Dutch pop singer Miss Montreal wrote a song about Tijn. She knew that is was important to tell people his story of being young and brave, and despite being sick, still wanting to stand up and fight for others. While she performed the song for him, everyone had tears in their eyes for Tijn.

Miss Montreal

3FM Gemist / YouTube

Christmas Eve

The exhausted DJs finally came out of the glass house on Christmas Eve. Citizens flooded the entire city. They were ready to celebrate the holiday, enjoy the music, and to witness the final count of all of the money that was raised by the event. Every single person had the same question on their minds: Since Tijn raised so much awareness about the event, how much money did they actually raise?

Christmas Eve

Armin van Buuren ‏ / Twitter

$10 Million

Tijn hopped on stage with his new DJ friends to help reveal the sign that had the amount of money they had earned at that year’s event written on it. Thanks to every person who donated even a few pennies, the Serious Request raised $10 million! That’s pretty good for a country that only has 17 million people in it!

$10 Million

henry_visschers / Instagram

LAK Nail Polish

Did things go back to normal once the glass house was broken down and the DJs went home to get some much-needed sleep? Well, the most famous comedian troupe in the Netherlands, Youp Van ‘T Heck, and actress Wendy Van Dijk continued what Tijn started. They created a website called LAK, where shoppers can buy a bottle of nail polish for a good cause for roughly $10.

LAK Nail Polish

3FM Gemist / YouTube

Semmy Foundation

Every single penny that was made with LAK was directly donated to the Semmy Foundation, which was named after a little boy who passed away at a very early age. The Semmy Foundation organizes fun events for people with brain cancer and raises funds for brain cancer research. It was definitely time to start giving back to children like Tijn.

Semmy Foundation

Semmy Foundation

Tijn's Death

Unfortunately, heartbreak struck Tijn’s family on July 7, 2017. Exactly one week before his 7th birthday, Tijn passed away in his home. His parents were obviously devasted, but they most certainly weren’t alone. The entire country mourned for Tijn. When was buried on his 7th birthday, Tijn was wearing white nail polish.

Tijn's Death

Facebook

Pope's Blessing

The passing of Tijn brought back lovely memories of the Christmas that a little boy made a huge difference to an entire country. Serious Request made an overwhelming impact on the world and with other countries following their lead, they paid their respects to the young superhero. Even Pope Francis had great respect for the young boy, and he had given Tijn his blessing shortly before the young life left this earth.

Nail Salon At Glass House

Tijn was honored in the best way possible by the Kolsteren the following December. As the glass house arrived, the family set up an actual nail salon. Their goal was to raise approximately €77,777 to honor the day that this inspiring little boy took his last breaths on this earth.

Nail Salon At Glass House

BrightVibes / Facebook

Never Forgotten

The remaining members of the Kolsteren family were invited to the Red Cross office in The Hague in July of 2018. The Hague is home to the largest Dutch city, as well as to the government and the U.N. International Court of Justice. After they arrived, a memorial that was erected in Tijn’s name was revealed to the family. The family knew that their son would never be forgotten as they saw the nail-polished-lined walls of the memorial.

Never Forgotten

3FM Gemist / YouTube

Tijn's Legacy

Tijn touched millions of people while he was alive, and now his legacy is saving the lives of thousands of people. Serious Request will forever honor the young fan by playing a song in his name every year at the event.

Tijn's Legacy

Dutch News

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