CARROLLWOOD — Beau Brickson’s inspiration to do something different over the summer came not through school lectures, a documentary or something he saw online. Beau, 13, was inspired by the memory of his loved ones.
While many of his peers were playing games, going on vacation or going to theme parks, Beau spent the spring and summer raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association “Walk to End Alzheimer’s,” the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.
Beau, an eighth grader at Buchanan Middle School BioEngineering Academy, said the got inspiration to get involved with fundraising through his family: his maternal great-grandmother, Jerri Connor, died of the disease in 2003 and paternal grandmother, Beverly Brickson, succumbed to Alzheimer’s in 2011.
The local walk will be held from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, at Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N. Ashley Drive. Beau’s team, “Kids & Friends for a Cure,” is made up of about 20 friends from a youth group at Forest Hills Presbyterian Church and friends and family from his Carrollwood neighborhood. Beau will be the youngest team captain for the association to date and his team will join other teams from around the Tampa Bay area in the effort.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and there is no cure for the disease, which worsens as it progresses, eventually leading to death. According to the Alzheimer’s Association website, it is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.
As of Oct. 3, Beau’s team had raised $3,325 and the team was fifth on the Team Honor Roll for donations for the walk out of 136 teams. Beau’s personal goal was to raise $500 and he collected more than $1,300. He said it’s been a lesson in persistence and patience.
In 2012, Beau walked with his neighbor’s team, “Grampy’s Girls.” This year, he decided he would have his own team so he could raise more money, tell more people about the walk and his fight to find a cure.
“When my grandmother died, that’s when I got interested in (Alzheimer’s),” Beau said. “Even if you don’t have anyone in your family now with the disease, it could happen. You’ll want a cure so you should donate to help find one.”
In addition to his and his family’s efforts, including parents Paul and Penny Jo Brickson, Beau is partnering with Tijuana Flats Carrollwood restaurant, which is donating a percentage of profits made from 5 to 9 p.m. back to the team Saturday. Tijuana Flats Westchase will give 10 percent of all profits to Beau’s team from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Jeff Staples, general manager for Tijuana Flats Carrollwood, said he found out about Beau’s efforts through his family’s frequent visits to the restaurant, 10019 N. Dale Mabry Hwy. and decided to donate because his company strives to get involved with the community. In September, he and his staff donated ten percent of an evening’s profits, about $200, to the Alzheimer’s Association.
“You have a young gentleman working to do good and there’s no way we can say ‘no’ to that,” said Staples, who’s worked as GM for the restaurant for two years. “We hope to raise even more money this time.”
Proceeds from the walks held around the country go to benefit care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. They help families by providing and enhancing programs on education and support, advancing research studies for treatment and prevention and ultimately a cure.
Rachel Farinas, special events Alzheimer’s Association Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, said Beau’s diligence and concern shows maturity and will to support. She said to see someone his age get so involved volunteering with a charitable organization has been an inspiration not just for his team but for the whole local Alzheimer’s Association.
“He says he hopes for a world where everyone remembers,” she said. “He has already expressed a desire to continue working long-term to continue fighting against the disease.”
To donate to Beau or get involved with the walk, visit http://tbo.ly/19Xktao or call (813) 765-1602.