The Four Diamonds
The Four Diamonds is a fantasy themed, allegorical short story written by Chris Millard in 1972 shortly before succumbing to cancer at the age of 14. After returning from summer vacation, his teacher told Chris' class to write a story about what they did during their vacation. Chris had spent the summer being treated for his illness, and asked his teacher if he could write something else, to which she agreed. He wrote about adventures and struggle of an aspiring knight, also named Millard, to conquer Raptenahad (a play on the name of Millard's form of leukemi, often misspelled as Raptemahad in books and articles), a magic-wielding evil queen who symbolised his illness. To defeat her, the story's Millard has to complete four difficult tasks.
The story gave name to Four Diamonds Fund, a childhood cancer-centered charitable organization established in 1972 by Chris' parents Charles and Irma. The story was also turned into a Disney TV movie in 1995.
The story relates the quest of teenage squire Millard to prove his knighthood for King Arthur preliminary to questing for the Holy Grail. Millard decides to do this by ridding a distant land of the evil sorceress Raptenahad (named after his disease, rhabdomyosarcoma) and liberate it of her many curses. Once captured by Raptenahad, the young hero attempts repeatedly to regain his freedom and vanquish her. The witch begins to admire her captive for his courage, and offers Millard to try and collect the Diamonus Quadrus (the Four Diamonds) of Courage, Wisdom, Honesty and Strength in order to defeat her (these were virtues Chris believed were necessary in the battle against cancer). If Millard accomplished every difficult task she assigned him, he would be freed and her reign would end forever. Eventually, his continued success enrages Raptenahad and, fearing for her life, she determines to destroy him on his final challenge, however he manages to overcome all obstacles and completes it too. With the sorceress being more, and her curses lifted, the knight takes over her former castle as his own palace and the story of Sir Millard begins.
|The Four Diamonds|
|Directed by||Peter Werner|
|Produced by||Joe Byrne
|Screenplay by||Todd Robinson|
|Story by||Christopher Millard|
|Music by||Phil Marshall|
|Edited by||Corky Ehlers|
|Walt Disney Television|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Television|
|Running time||96 min|
The Four Diamonds television flm, written by Todd Robinson and directed by Peter Werner, was broadcast on August 12, 1995, starring Tom Guiry as Chris Millard and Squire Millard, Christine Lahti co-starred as Chris' doctor and the sorceress Queen Raptenahad, Kevin Dunn as Charles Millard and the wizard Charles the Mysterious, and Jayne Brook as Irma Millard and Hermit of the Lagoon. The film weaves the stages of Millard's real life with Arthurian parallels in the story.
- Scott Moore, Sir Millard's Quest, The Washington Post, August 6, 1995
- John Latimer, From cancer to dancer -- Allison Engle dances in Penn State marathon, LDNews, 02/22/2011
- Penn State Hershey Four Diamonds Fund - Chris' Story
- Debra N. Mancoff , King Arthur's Modern Return
- Elizabeth Sherr Sklar, Donald L. Hoffman, King Arthur in Popular Culture
- Beth Kleid, Brave Heart: A Young Boy Battling Cancer Writes A Story Inspiring Others To Face Life's Obstacles, Los Angeles Times, August 6, 1995
- Kate O'Hare, Diamonds' Sparkle In Tribute To A Boy's Legacy, Chicago Tribune, August 6, 1995
- Tony Scott, A Disney Channel Premiere Film the Four Diamonds, Variety, August 7, 1995
- Walter Goodman, Boy's Short Life Blends With a Fantasy He Wrote, The New York Times, August 11, 1995
- Hal Boedeker, Mush And Medicine Collide, Orlando Sentinel, August 12, 1995