|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!
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.