In honor of his birthday coming up on June 25th, we are dedicating this week to celebrating the life and legacy of Darren Lee Farwell.
If you are a fan (or even just a customer) of UV Skinz, you are probably aware of how it was founded after our CEO, Rhonda Sparks, lost her husband to melanoma skin cancer. Darren lost his battle with the beast, but his legacy lives on through his family and the company that was created in his honor.
His boys, who were only babies when he left this earth, are now young men who aspire to help continue to build awareness of skin cancer and spread the importance of sun protection.
We had the opportunity to speak with them about their father’s legacy and how it has affected their lives.
This is what they had to say.
Can you please provide your name and tell us a bit about yourself?
Ethan: My name is Ethan Farwell and I am the first-born son of Darren Farwell. I am 24 years old and work as a photographer for UV Skinz.
Seth: My name is Seth Farwell, I am 22, and I am the second son of Darren Farwell. I recently graduated from UCSC and I am currently working in the marketing department at UV Skinz.
Caleb: I’m Caleb Farwell, the third son of Darren. I am currently going to school at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. I work in the fulfillment department at UV Skinz when I am home from school and I am 20 years old.
What age were you when your father, Darren, lost his battle with melanoma?
E: I had just celebrated my 6th birthday a few days before he lost his battle with melanoma. I will forever remember that birthday and the role he played even though he was extremely sick. I will cherish it for the rest of my life.
S: I was 3 years old when my dad lost his battle with melanoma.
C: I was only one year old when my dad passed away.
Do you have any special memories of experiences you had with your dad?
E: I was fortunate to spend more time with my father than my younger brothers due to my age, but I still wish I could go back in a time machine and share more memories and experiences with him. What I do remember very clearly is constantly having a variety of old and new wave rock blasting throughout the house at all times (we were musically cultured to his favorites at a young age), my dad’s love for animals especially our dogs Karma and Kane, learning how to skate in the halfpipe my dad and his friends made in our backyard, going on countless snowboarding trips up the hill and really learning to appreciate the mountains and overall just the love he felt and showed my brothers and I. I’ll never forget this one memory I have of him when I was probably around 5 years old and we were on one our frequent snowboarding getaways up the hill at the local resort, Dodge Ridge. The day was coming to a close and a pretty gnarly storm had blown in. We had the option of going in or taking one last run into the storm. I remember without hesitation my dad saying “let’s go” or something along those lines. As we made our way up the mountain the storm got worse until we were soon covered with an inch of fresh snow. Long story short, we made it down the mountain alive and my dad had to crack a joke saying that if we really did get stuck out there, we would have to dig a cave and he would use me as his personal heater haha. I will never forget that memory.
S: Due to my young age, I honestly don’t remember very much. But I do remember my dad playing guitar to me and I remember watching him skateboard with his friends on the half-pipe they built behind our house. I also remember that one time he painted my face to make me look like a lion, my favorite animal at the time.
C: Because I was so young, I don’t remember any experiences with him vividly. Although I’ll never forget the amazing stories I hear, and my faint memories of the laughs we shared.
How has your father’s legacy affected how you live your life?
E: Losing my father at such a young age and experiencing the legacy he left behind has been both the most challenging and rewarding life experience I have been through. My perspective on life has been extremely affected by the loss and absence of my father. But, it has also served as the biggest teacher in my life and has truly made me the man I am today. As I have grown over the years, so has my perspective. I no longer view his physical absence from my life with the anger and frustration, as I tended to do at a younger age, or even the feelings of deep sadness or desire for his presence (even though I am still guilty of this from time to time). No, my view on his legacy has transformed into nothing but gratitude for the person he was and is and the gifts he left behind for all of us. In a way, I feel that my brothers and I are a living representation of his legacy and I feel honored and blessed to be able to share his story in the hopes of inspiring others. The main things I have learned from the loss of my father is to love the life you live and never take a second of it for granted but also to never take it too seriously and to love with all your heart. Life is short and precious, so just ride the unpredictable wave of existence with optimism and a smile on your face, knowing it’s going to work out the way it is meant to.
S: I think that losing my dad at a young age had a huge impact on how I live my life. From as long as I can remember, I’ve been hyper aware of how fickle life is and how important it is to cherish each moment of it as much as possible. Although I by no means follow this philosophy perfectly, I do my best to make the best out of every day that I am lucky enough to have, cause positive change to the things I can, and try not to take things I cannot change to seriously.
C: My father’s passing taught me at a young age that tomorrow is never guaranteed for anyone, no matter how cool and or tough you are. I love hearing the many stories of how fun, caring, and awesome my dad was and I strive to live my life similarly. I try to enjoy the little things and experience as much as possible in life because one day it might be too late.
Do you think you are more aware of the damages the sun can cause because of what happened to your dad?
E: The loss of my dad to melanoma has made me hyper-aware of the harmful risks that UV radiation can have. From a very young age, it was made very clear to me the risks the sun can have, and I spent a lot of the younger years of my life covered in sunscreen and protective sun clothing. This was the true inspiration behind my mother starting UV Skinz and having the desire to not only inform people of the risks but to also save lives.
S: Definitely! I almost always have the danger the sun can pose on my mind (perhaps too much at times). I grew up being highly active and adventurous; spending long periods of time out under the sun. I used to get annoyed by how often my mom would make me, my brothers, and my friends lather on sunscreen (this was before UV Skinz), but now I am so grateful that she did.
C: I know I am more aware of the damages of the sun because of my story. I constantly notice how naive people can be about sun damage.
Do you think your peers are fully aware of the importance of sun protection and the dangers the sun can cause?
E: I think that in our modern times a lot more people and even younger people are seeing the harmful effects the sun can have and are taking it more seriously. As more and more studies are coming out with alarming statistics, I believe it is become the new social “cool” to be aware and to take precautions. It is also awesome to see companies like UV Skinz and others making a huge difference especially in younger demographics with fashionable sun protective options.
S: No. I think that my peers are aware of how dangerous the sun can be but I don’t think they take it very seriously or they believe skin cancer could never happen to them. I have close friends who tan regularly and they always jokingly apologize to me when the subject comes up. I tell them there’s no need to apologize to me, I’m not the one putting my life and future on the line.
C: Being 20 years old, I think most of my young adult peers do not fully understand the damages the sun can cause.
What is one thing you wish people knew about sun protection?
E: I would probably just want to bring more awareness and attention to how fragile we as humans are to the sun. And the fact that just one bad sunburn at any age, can alter genes and create life-threatening disease and many negative effects. Be aware and be proactive.
S: I wish people better understood not only how important protection is, but also how easy it can be. It’s not necessary to completely change your lifestyle to stay covered. Protection can be as easy as wearing a UPF 50+ treated tee instead of a simple cotton one, using lotion that has built in SPF, or just avoiding being out under the sun during peak UV hours.
C: I think what would benefit lots of people is knowing that skin damage from the sun doesn’t simply heal and fully recover. Every sunburn and even tan is damaging our body and the more often this happens the worse the damage can get. It isn’t simply burn then heal, burn then heal…burns have long term effects.
Do you have any final thoughts or comments you would like to say?
S: The only comment I have is that skin cancer can happen to anyone at any age. If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to take a look at some of the My Stories featured on the UV Skinz blog and see how many healthy and young people have tragically lost their battles to the beast that is melanoma.
C: Getting out in the sun is one of my favorite things, and is great for everyone. It’s just important to do so safely or the consequences can be greater than imagined.
E: Just that I would like to thank my mom Rhonda Sparks, and her company UV Skinz for giving me the opportunity to share my perspective on my dad’s legacy and for spreading awareness worldwide. And I would also like to give a special thanks to my dad for being the reason countless lives have been positively changed by his legacy and for making me the person I am today. Love and miss you always, DLF.