Shannon Tavarez
as Young Nala
Shannon Tavarez
as Young Nala
Broadway performer Shannon Tavarez has died after a long battle with acute myeloid leukemia. She was 11 years old.

Tavarez made her Broadway debut in The Lion King in September 2009. She remained with the show, playing Young Nala, until this past April when she was diagnosed with the disease.

While doctors had hoped to find a bone marrow match for a transplant, and the Broadway community, as previously reported, sponsored frequent bone marrow drives, no match was found. In late August, she received an umbilical-cord transplant as an alternative.

In a statement released tonight, Tavarez's mother said: "Shannon's strength and her happy, positive spirit will live on in our hearts and minds each day. Shannon's dream was to perform on stage, and that she did. We are grateful for the ongoing support from her Lion King family and the Broadway community. Shannon wanted to recruit people everywhere to "get swabbed" and help save the lives of those in need of a bone marrow transplant. In her memory, our family and friends will work tirelessly to carry out her wish through MatchShannon.com. It is our hope that Shannon's legacy will continue to inspire other brave children battling leukemia. We are grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers."

In honor of Shannon, the marquee of The Lion King at the Minskoff Theater was dimmed tonight, in her memory.