Former Bronco Zane Beadles’s foundation helps kids fighting cancer and other serious diseases
In the mid-2000s, when Zane Beadles was an offensive lineman for the University of Utah Utes, he and his teammates were introduced to a 7-year-old named Ryker who was determined that a brain tumor would not interfere with his dream of growing up and playing in the National Football League. The 2009 Sugar Bowl champions “adopted” the youngster, inviting him onto the field and into the locker room.
Unfortunately, Ryker never got to live out his dream; he died in February 2007. The loss of the boy—along with a family history of cancer—led Beadles to vow that wherever life took him, he would do whatever he could to bring joy to those living with the disease.
In 2010, months after graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering and receiving the Mountain West Male Scholar Athlete of the Year Award, Beadles was drafted by the Denver Broncos, where he spent four seasons, earned his first career Pro Bowl spot and help propel the team to the 2013 AFC Championship and Super Bowl 48. That same year—2013—was also when he started the Zane Beadles Parade Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to “bringing normalcy and happiness” to youngsters fighting cancer and other life-changing conditions.
The foundation’s Greatest Gifts Program, Beadles says, “creates positive memories beyond the hospital walls.” The 2,500 gifts offered to date range from offering tickets to sporting events and staging crafts-and-cupcakes parties to providing surfing lessons. The foundation, with headquarters in Denver, also serves seriously ill youngsters and their families in California, where Beadles now plays for the San Francisco 49ers; Florida, where he played two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars; and Utah, where he grew up.
In Denver, much of the foundation’s work centers on Brent’s Place, the region’s only Children’s Hospital Colorado–approved safe-clean housing facility for immune-compromised kids and their families.
In addition to the Greatest Gifts Program, the foundation funds a long-term suite at Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Region; provides aid to families facing huge expenses, which can top $1 million for a child in oncology treatment; supports the Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville, Florida; and is exploring partnerships at Stanford University and the University of California San Francisco.
The Zane Beadles Parade Foundation has one employee—executive director Julie Gart—and is governed by a 10-member, volunteer board. Beadles himself pays for 50 percent of Gart’s salary, with the remainder coming from the foundation.
There is also a junior board of directors made up of high school students in Colorado and Utah, each of whom plans an annual fundraiser at his or her school. Perhaps the most clever was staged by Boston Iacobazzi, a 17-year-old junior at Beadles’ alma mater, Hillcrest High School in Midvale, Utah. Iacobazzi purchased a thrift store couch, placed it on the sidelines of his school’s football field and held a drawing for the chance to sit on the couch for prime viewing of one season’s home football games.
The Zane Beadles Parade Foundation operates on income generated from an annual golf tournament in Salt Lake City, the sale of Parade Partners Shopping Cards, as well as sponsorships and gifts. The $60 cards, which entitle holders to a 20 percent discount at retail and specialty food outlets from November 3-12, can be bought at paradecard.zanesparade.org or at any of 250 participating businesses, including Arhaus, Kendra Scott jewelry shops, the St. John boutique and Beau Visage Skin Care and Spa.
“We’re very pleased with the success the card has had,” Beadles says. “We made money, shoppers saved money and one of our (2016) retailers told me that a $100,000 increase in sales could be traced directly to those shopping with our card.”
Beadles says he’d like the foundation to have a presence in every U.S. city that has a major children’s medical center. Until then, he adds, “We’ll continue to do as much as we can wherever we can.”
ZANE BEADLES PARADE FOUNDATION
Support: Purchase a Parade Partners card for $60 and enjoy a 20 percent discount at 250 Denver-area retail and restaurant locations from Nov. 3-12.
Volunteer: In Denver, Zane Beadles Parade Foundation volunteers participate in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit cuddle program at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, prepare and serve meals at Brent’s Place and a Ronald McDonald House and stage various recreational and respite activities. They also have distributed stuffed elephants that open up to become trays to hospitalized children.
Contribute: Cash donations can be sent to P.O. Box 460086, Denver, CO 80246 or made via the foundation website, zanesparade.org.