James Ragan was only 20 when he died of osteosarcoma. His courage and compassion, however, live on through a documentary film that premiered Oct. 30 at the Austin Film Festival. The event was an opportunity to celebrate the life and passions of the Corpus Christi native who was an inspiration to all.
Approximately 725 film aficionados and MD Anderson supporters attended the screening at the historic Paramount Theatre, despite 15 inches of rain that washed out bridges and roads in the surrounding area. The weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of the film’s co-directors and producers, Jamila Paksima and Geraldine Moriba, and members of Triumph Over Kid Cancer, an organization founded by James and his sister, Mecklin, to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer research.
Diagnosed at age 13 with a rare and often fatal form of bone cancer, James was a gifted athlete and Rice University student whom MD Anderson named Special Ambassador in 2012. “Until 20” includes James’ friends from Corpus Christi, Rice University, MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital and beyond, and his doctors, nurses and care team, including Valerae Lewis, M.D., chair of Orthopaedic Oncology, and Winston Huh, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics, who were on hand for the festivities.
“Until 20” was among the top five screenings at the festival, winning the Marquee Feature Documentary Audience Award and the Hiscox Courage in Filmmaking Award. It went on to win the Audience Award for Documentary Feature at the 28th Virginia Film Festival.