It is a night to honour someone special taken well before her time.
When the Langley Thunder hit the floor at Langley Events Centre on Wednesday, July 11 to take on the Maple Ridge Burrards, they will be wearing special purple jerseys – Tessa Beauchamp’s favourite colour.
The jerseys are being auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Tessa Beauchamp Foundation.
Tessa passed away in 2012, at the age of 18, after a long and painful battle with a rare type of cancer. This was just part of the adversity she faced – when Tessa was two years old, her dress caught on fire, resulting in third-degree burns to more than 20 per cent of her body.
But through whatever challenges life threw her way, Tessa was always a fighter and an inspiration to those around her.
And when she passed, the outpouring of support of made it an easy decision to create a legacy to honour Tessa, emulating her spirit and passion for life.
The money raised from the jersey auction will be distributed through scholarships for students as well as assist registered charities in their efforts both locally and internationally, explained Tessa’s father, Steve Beauchamp.
“She was one of those kids who got along with everybody. She was very personable, but I think what made her unique was she had a real empathy for other kids,” Beauchamp said.
“She always found a way to make sure she included other people and I think that just drew people to her.”
Tessa was known for her infectious smile and warm and happy disposition.
“There were just so many people she had touched in her short time, that we had a group of people who all wanted to be involved,” Beauchamp added. “They all responded to what Tessa stood for so (creating the foundation) felt like the right thing to do.”
The foundation was established to give back, just as Tessa gave the gifts of friendship and love.
One of those groups was Langley’s senior A lacrosse Thunder organization.
“She fought to the end and is an inspiration to many people,” said Thunder president Ken Buchan, who also had a family connection to Tessa. Not only was she dating his son and was a friend of the family, but Tessa was a student at Holy Cross Secondary, where Buchan teaches.
And Tessa was more than just a sports fan, she was athletically gifted, playing a multitude of sports.
Team sports especially appealed to Tessa, whether it be on the basketball or volleyball courts, or on the softball diamond, she loved being a part of a larger group all working towards a common goal.
“You had other teammates and they all had that same goal in mind, working together as a group to accomplish that, I think that was the biggest thing,” Beauchamp reflected on his daughter’s chosen pursuits.
Not even the treatments and resulting side effects could slow her passion for sports.
Even while she was battling the cancer and all the side effects of her treatment, whenever she could, health-permitting, Tessa would return to sports.
A perfect example of this was Tessa trotting out on to the basketball court, a patch covering one eye to combat the double vision – which resulted from her treatments – and no hearing in one of her ears. None of this mattered to her.
An anecdote on the foundation website from her high school basketball coach perfectly sums up Tessa’s spirit and determination.
Even after the cancer returned in February of her Grade 12 year, she would not be stopped. Tessa suited up with the Crusaders the following month at the BC senior girls provincial basketball championships.
“The cancer by this time was making it difficult for her to breathe and left her extremely fatigued,” wrote Holy Cross coach Ryan Tyrell on the foundation website.
The Crusaders were facing Sahali, a team which had knocked off Holy Cross in previous big matches and the game was played in front of a large and boisterous crowd with support for both sides.
“From the start, it was evident Tessa was putting in a performance to be remembered. She played close to 40 minutes, scoring 30 points and was a stalwart on defence and on the boards, single-handedly urging her team to victory and a place in the semifinals,” Tyrell said.
“As in life and athletics, Tessa refused to give up. She simply could not accept ‘no’ for an answer.”
Despite cancer ravaging her body, Tessa was still able to perform at a high enough level to earn provincial all-star honours.