Stephen Breen was 14 years old when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a very rare form of bone cancer. At the time, he was a freshman at Nolan Catholic High School and had just graduated from St. Andrew Catholic School in 2002. Stephen was a caring, quick-witted, loving boy and a very good student. During his illness, he grew more courageous and brave – a young man who is still an inspiration to many. Until his death at 15 years old, Stephen touched many lives by possessing wisdom beyond his age, strength greater than his size, and faith in God without understanding why he was stricken with cancer.
Throughout his life, Stephen expressed a desire to help people. Two areas were particularly important to him. Stephen wanted to help kids obtain an education in the Catholic school system, and he wanted to help kids who are stricken with cancer like he was. The Stephen Breen Memorial Foundation has been established to fulfill Stephen’s wishes and achieve these objectives.
Stephen is the son of our very dear friends*, and the Pea Family is so honored to be able to support the Foundation with our time, talent and treasure. One of our volunteer stints is the Annual Stephen Breen Basketball Tournament at our parish school – two weeks of Basketball and more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Seriously! There are about fourteen families who stage this production, complete with [model] F35 flyovers in the gym during the national anthem, amazing concessions (burgers! grilled chicken! pulled pork!) and silly audience participation games at halftime and between games. We literally live at the school gym for the entire two weeks, eating, playing, praying and raising money for the Foundation.
Today was the Championship Games for 2011 – what an amazing collection of young people playing their hearts out, all for Stephen and his dream. So today? I’m counting my Stephen Breen Blessings.
Following Ann, counting my blessings.
61. Basketball – the middle school variety
62. Jim and Kathy Breen, and the amazing foundation they have established in their son’s memory
63. The honor and privilege of sharing our time, talent and treasure with the Stephen Breen foundation
64. Donna R. who made the most delicious King Ranch Chicken for the volunteers at the Basketball tournament
65. Getting to meet David Hira
66. Having dinner with the Bishop
67. Finally learning how to run the game clock
68. Concession stand volunteers
69. Bobby P, greatest sports announcer on the face of the earth
70. Dana C, the calmest person I’ve ever met
71. F-35 flybys in the school gym
72. St. Andrew Wildcats
73. Ronda F, who is an inspiration to us all for perseverance
74. Shop Vacs, most excellent for cleaning up confetti
75. Access to the school cafeteria
77. Michael S and his photography
78. Moms who man the gate at basketball games so that I can grab a bite to eat
79. Alex L, the best fifth grade helper ever
80. Bridgette L, for driving on the beer run for the post clean up party so I wouldn’t have to move my car from a primo parking space!