Dutch mourn death of 'nail polish dare' boy

Tijn Kolsteren, who was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer in May last year, raised more than €9 million with his nail polish charity drive.
Tijn Kolsteren, who was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer in May last year, raised more than €9 million with his nail polish charity drive.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/TIJN KOLSTEREN

THE HAGUE • The Dutch are mourning the death of Tijn Kolsteren, a terminally ill boy who raised millions of euros in a charity drive by daring people to paint their nails - including the country's top politicians.

"We are confused and devastated," the Semmy Foundation, the charity organisation supported by six-year-old Tijn, announced on its Facebook page on Friday, in announcing his death. It said he died on the final day of a new fund-raising drive, without specifying when.

Diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer in May last year, Tijn fired the public's imagination when he launched a move to dare people to paint their nails, hoping to raise a few hundred euros.

"Paint your nails, make a donation and then challenge three of your friends to do the same," his donation page said at the time.

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Within a few days his action netted more than €2.5 million (S$3.9 million), with numerous public figures including Prime Minister Mark Rutte and DJ Armin van Buuren donning nail polish in support.

In total, more than €9 million was collected and the Dutch press hailed the brave youngster as a superhero. Soon he became known as "Super Tijn".

Pope Francis in April blessed him in a letter sent from Vatican City after he was told about the nail polish initiative.

Before his death, Tijn was working on a new charity drive called "Lak door Tijn" (Dutch for "Nail polish by Tijn") in which he sold four colours of polish to collect money to buy a specialised machine to treat children with brain cancer.

The goal amount of €1 million was reached on Thursday night, Dutch media reported.

His family was flooded with condolences and the hashtag #tijn became the top trending topic on Twitter in The Netherlands.

Mr Rutte praised him for inspiring people.

"Tijn is an example for many," he said before the boy's death.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 09, 2017, with the headline 'Dutch mourn death of 'nail polish dare' boy'. Print Edition | Subscribe