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Youth Sports Hero of the Month: Brayden Beckworth (Kenora, Ontario, Canada)

A youth hockey player's birthday party becomes a cancer fundraiser

When 10-year-old Brayden Beckworth and his mother made plans for his birthday party on March 1, 2009, they came up with an idea that does not occur to most boys or girls his age. "Why not raise money to help someone, rather than get more toys I'm not going to use?", thought the fourth-grader at Ecole Ste Marguerite Bourgeoys in Kenora, Ontario, Canada. Donation jar with Please Help on label

Mother and son mailed out invitations with this request: "Instead of a gift, Brayden asks you to help him help others by bringing a donation for a charity of his choice."

Twenty friends from school and Brayden's youth hockey team, the Keewatin Flyers, attended the party and heeded his request. A week later, Brayden presented $230 to the Cancer Care Program at the Lake of the Woods District Hospital, the charity he chose because his great-grandmother was battling cancer.

The Kenora Daily Miner and News reported that Brayden was already thinking toward the future. "Maybe I'll try something new to make more donations for cancer treatment," he said after his birthday party.

The lesson of this story: A birthday party with a purpose

Ten-year-olds like Brayden Beckworth are not expected to solve the world's problems, but they can make a difference in their own communities with donations of time, energy or money that may seem modest, but are anything but. In his fable, "The Lion and the Mouse", Aesop (620 B.C.-560 B.C.) said that, "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." The moral of his story is as true today as it was in ancient times.

At any age, adds billionaire New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, "every dollar makes a difference, and that's true whether it's Warren Buffett's remarkable $31 billion pledge to the [Bill and Melinda] Gates Foundation, or my late father's $25 check to the NAACP."

"If we all just gave according to our ability," concludes President Bill Clinton in Giving, his recent book on philanthropy, "the positive impact would be staggering. . . . If everyone did it, we would change the world."

Generosity is learned behavior, and teaching the importance of giving is a lesson that can begin to be taught at a young age.  By supporting worthy causes, youth leaguers, guided by their parents, can have a positive impact that contributes to meaningful change.

Sources: Reg Clayton, "Hospital Cancer Care Program Beneficiary: Birthday Boy Shares", Daily Miner and News (Kenora, Ontario, Canada), p. A3 (Mar. 2009); Aesop, The Lion and the Mouse, Aesop's Fables: A Classic Illustrated Edition, p. 38 (1990); Bill Clinton, Giving, pp. 55, 206 (2007).

Posted October 1, 2011