One Year After her Passing, Tessa’s Spirit Lives on Through Charity, Tourney and a Special Day Feb 6, 2013 - By Howard Tsumura - The Province
In eulogizing one of the recruits that she had signed and one day hoped to have playing on her team, Trinity Western women’s basketball coach Cheryl Jean-Paul said last February of 18-year-old Tessa Beauchamp: “While she was going through things that we can’t even fathom, she still allowed us to be a part of her journey.”
It has been just over a year since Beauchamp, a star basketball player and 2011 graduate of Surrey’s Holy Cross Secondary, lost what would become a very public, four-year battle with cancer.
And what Jean-Paul was speaking to in early 2012 seems especially meaningful this month, because the harder Beauchamp fought, the easier it was for others to see how strongly she lived her core ideals of family, friendship and compassion for others.
It is that spirit which now anchors the efforts of the newly-formed Tessa Beauchamp Foundation, a body whose directive involves not only a charitable arm of annual post-secondary scholarship monies, but asks young people to consider their own potential in a movement to bring positive change to the less fortunate, either through fund-raising efforts, or simply through the gift of their time.
It all begins Friday with Tessa’s Tournament (full draw below), a two-day girls invitational at Holy Cross, which features Crusaders’ Grade 8, junior and senior varsity teams playing teams from throughout B.C., and continues on Feb. 22 with Tessa Beauchamp Charity Day, a province-wide initiative in which staff and students at every B.C. school are encouraged to wear Beauchamp’s favorite colour (purple) and raise funds for their own school’s charities of choice.
“I hope it helps to showcase a little bit of who Tessa was to all of the people and schools that participate,” said Tessa’s father Steve, who has continued to coach the senior girls team at Holy Cross, currently ranked No. 1 in B.C. at the Double A tier. “It would be nice if they could take a little bit of her generosity and energy to help someone else, someone not as well off or someone who just needs a pat on the back. That is exactly the kind of kid Tessa was.”
Whether she was volunteering in soup kitchens or cutting her own hair for cancer wigs, Beauchamp was a teen focused on making a difference. And that, over the first few months of its existence, is something that the foundation named in her honour is doing within the B.C. high school system.
Already, the foundation has awarded four scholarships totaling $2,000 at three different high school basketball tournaments. As well, applications are now being taken for a $1,000 post-secondary scholarship, open to any graduating boy or girl in B.C., regardless of whether they are a student-athlete or not.
“It’s about who you are and how you might emulate some of the different qualities Tessa had,” explains Steve, noting that application forms are now available online at tessabeauchamp.org. “And we are encouraging applicants to be creative. If you want to do a video, if you want to sing a song, we are more than happy.”
To help with fund-raising efforts, the foundation is able to supply purple wrist bracelets, which can either be sold for charity or given away. Yet as he stresses, no idea is too small. The most important part of the movement is taking the first step of getting involved.
“Even if you’re not raising money, if you go and do something for a charity, maybe you don’t have money, but it’s time you donate,” he says. “That was a big part of what Tessa would do. She and her mates would go to underprivileged areas and donate clothing, or hold a soup kitchen.”
Admission to this weekend’s tournament is by donation, and silent auctions are also planned on site as part of the fund-raising effort to help insure the foundation can continue to offer its series of annual scholarships. And the decision to involve all of the school’s girls teams was made with the hope that those coming into their high school years can more fully understand the impact a young girl just like themselves had in choosing to think of others, even in her darkest hours.