June 22, 2010— -- Randy Pausch, the beloved Carnegie Mellon University professor who gave a famous "last lecture," would be proud of one of his closest pupils, his son Dylan.
Eight-year-old Dylan Pausch, very much his father's son, lobbied on Capitol Hill today to raise awareness for those suffering from pancreatic cancer. Randy Pausch died from the disease in July 2008.
"So many people are dying from pancreatic cancer and the survival rates are so low," Dylan said. "If we keep studying, we might be able to change that."
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths, but it gets much less funding than other cancers. The reason is due in part to the very low survival rate. Only 6 percent of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survive more than five years. This year alone, 43,140 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 36,800 of them will die.
Dylan and his mother, Jai Pausch, were in Washington to lobby, along with 500 other members of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
Two years ago, 47-year-old Randy Pausch, then suffering from terminal cancer, was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon. His illness became too much and he had to leave his university.
He gave one last lecture, called "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." A videotape of the lecture made it way onto the Internet and into the hearts of millions.
"So what were my childhood dreams?" Randy told the crowd of 400 in 2007. "Being in zero gravity, playing in the National Football League, authoring an article in the World Book Encyclopedia. I guess you can tell the nerds early."
His blend of humor and courage was so inspiring.
"We can't change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand," he said. "I don't know how not to have fun, all right? I'm dying and I'm having fun."
The lecture has been clicked on at least 11 million times on YouTube and some 4 million people have bought Pausch's book.
Randy's last days were devoted to his family, leaving behind memories and stories, not big life lessons he told ABC News, but things like his favorite foods and even the "boneheaded mistakes" he'd made in life.
His book, "The Last Lecture," had a chapter devoted just to his children.
Randy spent two of those precious last days walking the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C. He lobbied for increased funding for pancreatic cancer research.
"I'm here to put a human face on the disease," he said.
Today, his son, Dylan, accompanied by his mother Jai Pausch, bravely walked those same hallways in his father's footsteps. Dylan talked to Washington lawmakers about the need for more funding for this lethal form of cancer.
"I think it it's wonderful for him to see, individually we have the power as an American to make a difference," Jai said. "I think that this helps them say, 'Wow, I can do something, maybe I can't bring my dad back to life, but I can help other people.'"