By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Kris Oldenburg admits her late son, Brandon Lee Beck, didn’t always make the right decisions. But she wants the public to know that he loved life, loved playing football for Chandler High School and loved his family.
“He wasn’t the greatest kid in the world, honestly,” said Oldenburg, a trauma flight nurse. “He had some issues, but he loved football.
“Let’s face it: When you die when you’re 18 and played football since you were 8, football is a big part of your life. He was in the wrong place in the wrong time when he was killed.”
Oldenburg—along with her police officer husband, Eric, and two children, Kyle, who is in the Air Force, and 11-year-old Zoe—is remembering Brandon again this year by raising funds to give scholarships to Chandler High School football players.
She wants to help advance their athletic and academic careers—something taken away from her son by a gunman.
She is accomplishing this through the BLB Memorial Scholarship Fund and Barbecue Turkey Raffle at 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19. The event features “games, music and farm animals,” she said. “We will have goat milking, sack races, pie-eating contests and, of course, our turkey raffle, which everyone seems to love more each year. It’s pretty popular.”
Admission is from $5 to $15. Kids younger than 5 eat free. Raffle tickets are $5 or five for $20. For more information, visit brandonbeck.org. The BLB Memorial Scholarship is a nonprofit organization.
The event is held at the family’s South Chandler 2-acre hobby farm at 12503 E. Via De Palmas, where they raise Nubian goats, turkeys, and makes farm-friendly products.
Beck was killed just shy of his 19th birthday during an altercation between two groups at a Chandler party on Sept. 5, 2010. He was shot in the chest, collapsed in the street and died on the way to the hospital.
“We try to not focus on how he died, but how he lived his life and a good portion of his life was playing for Chandler,” Oldenburg said.
Brandon’s place as a Wolf caused a little friendly rivalry in the Oldenburg home; Kyle played for Hamilton. Brandon preferred to hit the turf for Chandler, as he grew up being coached by the school’s personnel.
“He begged,” Oldenburg said. “He said ‘I played for these coaches. They know who I am. I want to finish where I started.’
“Was he the best player ever? No, but he was one of the only sophomores who played variety for three years. It had a good impact on his life.”
The fundraiser began five years ago as a farm breakfast in September, but because of the heat, it was moved to November.
“Brandon passed on Sept. 5, 2010, and we wanted the event around that time,” she said. “Now with this barbecue in November, it’s the perfect time for neighbors and friends to enjoy our farm and the weather and remember Brandon.”
Oldenburg is aiming for about 200 attendees. Chandler residents since 1999, the family moved to the farm after Brandon’s death. They have always wanted to keep the event local, “our family and people from around the neighborhood love it.”
It’s her way of remembering her son.
“Part of me feels guilty because it’s selfish in a way,” she said. “By doing this, I get to tell Brandon’s story. I get to be his mom, even though he’s not here. It’s just as much for me, as it is for the players.”