May 17 is DIPG Awareness Day. This day holds a special place in our organization because our friend, Nathan Beatty, was diagnosed with DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a terminal brain tumor) at the age of eight and passed away last July. A huge Sounders fan, Nathan had the opportunity to come to Seattle and meet his favorite player, Clint Dempsey, in September 2016. Nathan and his family immediately became part of the Sounders family.
Earlier this month, SoundersFC.com had the opportunity to visit with Nathan’s parents, Tara and Clint, and his brother, Colin, during their visit to Seattle. While we intend to write a longer piece on the family’s special relationship with the club, see below for a short Q&A from our conversation to highlight DIPG Awareness Day.
SOUNDERSFC.COM: What would you like people to know about your experience with childhood cancer?
Tara: “The biggest thing that we try to tell everybody, which no one realizes, childhood cancer research only gets four percent funding from the government. Adulthood cancers get 96 percent. Children’s cancers only get four percent, and that is split into brain cancer, liver cancer, bone cancer, etc. DIPG only received $250,000 in research last year. This is a terminal diagnosis. As soon as you are diagnosed, you are going to pass. I think that is where we want to raise awareness. DIPG is terrible and horrible, but all childhood cancer should get more than four percent. That’s our big thing now — we are pushing for more than four. They definitely need more than four.”
SOUNDERSFC.COM: How has it been as small family from Texas to find yourselves in such a unique relationship with a pro soccer team in Seattle?
Tara: “The neatest thing about being involved with this club and having Nathan meet everybody is that it was a horrible situation, but we have met the most fantastic people and have become friends with everybody. We have some lifelong friends, which is great. I think it’s pretty neat that they still remember Nathan and think about him and contact us and ask how we are doing — it’s just a really great organization. I think that’s the best thing. Even though it was a terrible situation, we got some amazing friends and memories out of it.”
Clint: “It’s not only just the players, but it’s their families. Clint [Dempsey]’s family is from Nacogdoches, so any time y’all are in Dallas, both Clint’s family and our family sit together and we chat with each other. Besides meeting the family and the friends, we won MLS Cup the same year that this all started. I don’t know if it’s the grace of God or just lucky timing or Nathan’s the lucky charm, it’s just neat to have that memory and to keep it going.”
Colin: “It’s cool to not only go to games and meet players, but to spread awareness for childhood cancer.”
SOUNDERSFC.COM: The connection your family has with the Sounders is special — is this something that is common between sports teams and children battling cancer?
Tara: “What I tell everybody is that you don’t realize how much MLS gives back. You hear about the NFL and you hear about MLB, but you don’t really hear how much MLS does. The fact that they keep us in their minds and we have this amazing relationship with them is just fantastic. We tell everybody to support MLS because they do so much for their community. It’s really, really neat."