Jason TNT

Jason TNT

Saturday, May 28, 2016

"Happy Birthday #9" by guest blogger, friend & JBMF Board member, Rob Thomson

Jason, Rob and Jennifer at Andersen
Mission Inn Resort party circa 1996
Rob and Jason on road trip to Tennessee
to watch Gators beat Peyton Manning AGAIN!
Happy Birthday, Jason!

I can’t help but be reminded of Jason often especially in the spring – from Shamrocks and Shenanigans to Little League season at Delaney Park to my first Obscure Bar Tour …

As we “celebrated” in March, knowing Jason has been gone 3 years, it is fulfilling to look back over those 3 years and know that his legacy is continuing to live on, thanks to many of you, but especially thanks to Jennifer.  Those of us who help at various times in the planning of golf tournaments, parties, memorials, IRS paperwork, etc. are continuously amazed at the strength and dedication that she has shown, and also by the support team that has assembled around her.

There’s so much good news to share – the Jason Beaird Memorial Foundation was recently approved as an official tax exempt charity by the IRS, a website is on the way, parameters for a scholarship are being finalized, and efforts are being focused to continue to grow the mission of the Foundation through hospital or patient outreach.

Over time, certain memories of my interactions with Jason pop up when I least expect it.  I’ve grown to just accept it as Jason letting me know he’s still around.  Does this happen to any of you?  I’m not talking about the obvious ones, like the signs hanging at Delaney Park, or running out to the flagpole to pat his bronzed face before a game for good luck.  For example, on a recent bus trip to a Rays game, a huge Gator fan was flipping through her phone pictures and she ran across some pictures of the Final Four games in Atlanta and started talking about it.  What I remember from that night, more than it being a precursor to my first Masters visit, was running into Jason on the streets of Atlanta on the way into the game.  Somewhere I have a physical picture of the encounter, but for now the mental picture is seared into my head, and that’s all I need.
Lester Beaird from Sarasota
Rob T on the mound
Another reminder comes when I put on a baseball uniform and try not to injure myself each spring when I participate in a Fantasy Camp or weekend tournament.  I think many of you know I met my wife while playing on the same adult baseball team as Jason and Ted, as one of the players on our team recruited her to come watch a game and she placed her eyes on the pitcher and the rest was history.  I’ll continue playing baseball as long as I am physically able to, as there’s no better way to take my mind and body to a place where I can focus (or daydream) about the present, past, or future.  I know Jason would kid me if he was around to see pictures of the much older and much heavier guy on the mound in the Mets uniform (and probably make some Bartolo Colon jokes).  In a way, he’s been there with me the last two springs in Tampa, as I have turned the corner in the clubhouse and seen a Pirates jersey with the name Beaird on it hanging in a locker, even spelled the right way.  It turns out that Lester Beaird is from Sarasota and is not related to Jason, but talk about getting stopped in your tracks and being thankful for being able to put on a jersey and play baseball for a couple of days.  People ask me why I continue to do it, and because I still can seems to me to be reason enough, doesn’t it?  With all of the crazy athletic stuff Jason was willing to do during his recovery periods, I know if he was still around, I would definitely have gotten him back out on the field with me.  Maybe not at the Yankees complex, though …
I encourage you to keep the memory of Jason alive in any way you can as we celebrate his birthday this May.  Things will be quiet for a few months until our next formal gathering in his memory, but I know he’ll be present in your lives in some way this summer.  Look for it, chuckle to yourself when it happens, and try to make a commitment to tell someone a story about him and the efforts that we are all making around keeping his memory alive.  We’ve only just begun.  Happy Birthday, #9. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

"In Honor of Friday the 13th…"  posted by Jennifer Beaird

Jason as "Jason"!
In honor of Friday the 13th today, I'm reposting one of Jason's previous blogs.  As you may recall, 5 years ago today - 5/13/11 was Jason's "New Birthday" - the day which he received his actual Stem Cell Transplant.  Jason wrote the blog below just prior to that date... 

Jason receiving his stem cells.
"I've caught some grief over my life because I share a name with Jason, the hockey-mask wearing killer of hormone-fueled teenagers.  The Friday the 13th movies were a highlight of my Cinemax-fueled young adulthood.  If you look at my treatment calendar at the right of the blog page, you'll see that my once-faint connection to this coed cadaver-maker is about to grow stronger.  In transplant talk, "Day 0" is the day that stem cells are inserted to begin the process of re-generating the immune system that has been wiped out by high-dose chemotherapy.  Day 0 is often called a patient's new birthday.  That means my new birthday is Friday May 13th.  I am now Jason, "born" on Friday the 13th.  I'll be adding a machete to my pool equipment in case I need to hack to bloody pieces any frolicking teenagers who have sneaked into my pool to skinny dip."     Jason Beaird 5/1/11