As soon as Tanner Seebaum stepped behind the DJ table at Rehab Pool Saturday afternoon, nothing else mattered.
He ditched his wheelchair and worked the equipment. The 16-year-old’s head bobbed to the thumping dubstep bass while his hands twisted knobs and adjusted sliders on the controller board. The crowd at the dayclub danced and nodded to music he was spinning, music he created.
It was a dream he never thought would come true.
His mother, Stephanie, watched from the pool, while his father, Matt, snapped photos. They're trying to stay in the moment, but it's in the back of their minds -- his time is limited.
Tanner has struggled with a brain tumor for most of his life and last year, doctors told him that it was back after eight years of remission. It was terminal, and it would slowly take over his brain. He's recently lost most of the function on the right side of his body and he can’t hear out of his right ear.
Two weeks ago, doctors told him he had weeks to live, so the family came here from their home in Denver to make his last wish – working the crowd from a Vegas stage – come true.
“It’s really hard. He’s going to be 17 in August. I just can’t describe it,” Stephanie Seebaum said. “Every second that thought is in the back of my mind. I’m so excited he can do what he wants to do, but it’s really hard. He finally found his niche in life one year ago, and now it will all be taken away.”
The last year has been about making the most of the time they have. Tanner, his parents and sister went to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, spent time at Martha’s Vineyard and caught some Denver Broncos action -- Tanner worked out with Tim Tebow.
The last year has also been about DJing. The teen has thrown himself into perfecting his skills.
“It seems to be his channel for all he is dealing with,” Matt Seebaum said. “With his right side being paralyzed and all the (bad) stuff with the brain tumor -- it’s pretty amazing to see what it has done for him.”
His parents estimate that he spends more than three hours a day in the basement perfecting his blend of dubstep and trap music. He absorbs himself in the beats, blocking everything else out of his mind. It helps him deal with the slow spread of the tumor and the reality of his condition.
Tanner has played a few shows in Denver -- including Digital Circus, but it has been his dream to play in Las Vegas -- the DJ mecca of the United States. About one month ago, his family reached out to DJ Mash Up King (Landon Dyksterhouse), who plays at Hard Rock’s Body English. Dyksterhouse spoke to Mike Goodwin, vice president of daylife and nightlife at the Hard Rock Hotel.
And that's how DJ Seebaum found himself DJing for the crowd at one of the most famous dayclubs in the world when the most famous DJs in the world were performing all weekend at the Electric Daisy Carnival.
“When they told me I was going to Vegas and that I was DJing, I got really excited,” Tanner said. “I didn’t think I was leaving Denver again.”
Still, Tanner’s condition makes nothing a guarantee. His parents were worried they would have to cancel his show when they arrived on Friday. His condition seemed to spiral. He kept asking the same things over and was progressively getting worse.
“Yesterday was about one of the worst days he’s had,” Stephanie Seebaum said.
Yet on Saturday morning, Tanner seemed refreshed. He spent the morning taking in Rehab pool and getting a tour of the equipment from DJ Ryan Beej.
When it came time to do his set, he dropped into the beat without making a mistake.
“Bottom line, we wouldn’t bring someone to Vegas who couldn’t come up to Rehab pool on EDC weekend and play a great set,” Dyksterhouse said. “He can definitely hold it down.
"I’ve never heard a 16-year-old play as good as he can play.”
For 30 minutes, Tanner dove into his routine working the controls like a professional on one of the most famous stages of Las Vegas. For 30 minutes, he was not a 16-year-old battling a terminal illness to the people in the pool -- he was a DJ.
His last wish come true.