When Brian Beacham decided to run in his second triathlon he knew that this one would have a more significant meaning but he wasn’t able to anticipate what an emotional experience it would become.
On February 13, 2008, Brian’s future brother-in-law, Billy, as family and friends referred to him, was diagnosed with colon cancer that had also spread to his lymph nodes and liver. After originally deciding to participate in the 2009 Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon for a second time, Brian decided that he also wanted to dedicate his efforts to help raise awareness and money for the fight against colorectal cancer in Billy’s honor.
At the same time Brian was training for the June 27th triathlon, Billy fought his cancer with great courage and optimism each and every day. From his original diagnosis, he underwent continual chemotherapy treatments and dealt with the numerous side effects that are normally associated with such treatments. Brian’s training was an up and down journey as well but he knew that it was nothing compared to the up and down journey that Billy was experiencing.
“I can’t tell you what doing the triathlon in honor of Billy and seeing the generosity of family and friends did for my training this year,” said Brian. He went onto add that he was looking to cut five minutes off of his time from last year but that his added focus of raising money for colorectal cancer research and competing in honor of Billy would make the event much more special.
On June 10, 2009, less than three weeks before the triathlon and after weeks of complications and suffering, Billy lost his battle to colon cancer and passed away with his loved ones by his side.
Although Brian had received great support from his family and Billy’s family, his efforts became a complete family focus. Billy was very close to his sisters Karen and Cindy, their husbands and absolutely cherished his niece and nephews Jake, Will, Cole, Erin and Ryan. Along with his fiancé and Brian’s sister, Nancy, the entire family rallied around the triathlon and Billy’s passing to raise awareness and money in his memory.
On the day of the triathlon, members of both families wore “Cover Your Butt” shirts that had a picture of Billy screen printed on the back with a quote everyone had come to remember him by – “Make it a great day!”
Everyone knew that Billy was with them on this exciting and very emotional day but the most obvious way was in the form of a bike. The previous year Brian had used a bike that wasn’t totally race-friendly. About a month before he passed away, Billy had lent Brian a top-line racing bike for training and to use during the race. You can only imagine how special it was for Brian to be riding this bike and not shockingly, Brian cut 14 minutes from his previous time. Clearly Billy was there with him pushing him along.
Through Brian’s fundraising efforts and the generosity of friends and family with memorial donations, more than $12,000 was raised for C3: Colorectal Cancer Coalition (C3) and to fund the fight against colorectal cancer. In addition, Brian, Nancy and many members of Billy’s family have expressed their interest in continuing to work with C3 to keep raising awareness and fighting colorectal cancer in memory of Billy and carrying on the legacy of a great man.