UC Davis student drops out of college to help best friend fulfill bucket list
CARMICHAEL, Calif. (KTVU) - Best friends since childhood, two young men plan to live out as many adventures together as possible during the time they have together.
In September, 20-year-old Chris Betancourt received word that his cancer had returned and just like during moments of heartbreak prior, his best friend ran to his side.
And this time, 19-year-old Dillon Hill decided to take a break from his own life to make it his main mission to help his friend live out his life to the fullest.
"Taking time away from school to pursue this, though I'm finishing my quarter at UC Davis," Hill told KTVU.
On a YouTube channel created by the Sacramento area friends, Hill explains how he reacted when Betancourt told him the devastating news about the cancer:
"...my best friend called me and told me he was dying," Hill says. "Chris called and told me that his doctors said there's no more options, his cancer has mutated and this time I don't think he can overcome it."
"At that very moment I decided that I would drop out of college and I'd do everything in my power to allow him to experience his one list and his one life," Hill said.
And so it came about, the website "My Best Friend: One List One Life," which includes the story of Chris and Dillon's years-long friendship and a comprehensive bucket list that the pair is systematically crossing off together.
It's a list of both touching and entertaining items including:
- Break a world record
- Go to a buffet and eat until they tell me to leave
- Lift weights with The Rock
- Help an old lady cross the street
- Befriend a homeless person
- Find love before I die
On Thanksgiving, the friends crossed off a big item on the list: #23 "Go around and give homeless people food and water."
They posted video of the event and noted that they also managed to accomplish a couple of other goals, including #45 "Order 100 items at a fast food place," food which they used to handout that day.
The pair have been friends since 4th grade, when they met in elementary school in Carmichael.
In the 5th grade, Betancourt was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia.
With treatment, he managed to keep it at bay.
While in the hospital, Hill visited his friend all the time and the two played video games to give Betancourt an escape and lift his spirit.
Those video games later inspired the friends to start the non-profit "Gamers Gift," which brings virtual reality to children in hospitals, patients in assisted living facilities, and those living with disabilities.
Betancourt's illness was not the only life altering event that drew the two friends closer.
In 2014, tragedy struck when Betancourt's sister committed suicide.
That sister also happened to be Hill's girlfriend in high school, which he acknowledged completely broke best-friend protocol.
The two leaned on each in the aftermath of the loss.
Hill says his best friend has been and continues to be a huge inspiration to him.
"It's incredible to see how he always keeps his head-up regardless of all that he's had to go through in his life. He has been through so much, and has gotten so little," Hill said.
The next adventure that awaits the friends is what the two are calling a "culture trip" to San Francisco on Dec. 20-23, during which they plan to cross off at least five items.
Earlier this month, the website offered an update that said doctors have confirmed that Betancourt's options are limited.
Unless he undergoes a successful bone marrow transplant, he has one to two years to live.
The website is asking people to consider joining the bone marrow registry saying, "If it isn't Chris' life you are saving, it's someone else's."
In the mean time, the two friends plan on discovering as many adventures as possible with this attitude and outlook filled with determination and hope: "Life is still worth living and we aren't giving up."