INDIANAPOLIS — When someone was considering which high school to attend, Chris Beaty never wavered from his belief the choice should be Cathedral High School in Indianapolis.
“When I was picking a high school, he was a very outspoken advocate for Cathedral,” recalled Jared Thomas, one of Beaty’s nephews. “He said that in four years, it prepared you not only academically and athletically, but also for life. He went to Cathedral and really found who he was as a person.”
From his bear hugs to his efforts to break down racial barriers, Beaty lived his life “with a giant heart filled with love for everyone he met,” said friends and family members of the 2000 Cathedral graduate. And he died in the same way, putting “his life on the line” for others.
In the midst of the May 30 riots in downtown Indianapolis after protests about the deaths of black Americans at the hands of police, Beaty was shot and killed when he tried to help two women being attacked near his apartment.
So, to honor the person that Beaty became and the two schools he loved, family and friends have established the Chris Beaty Memorial Scholarship Fund to raise money for scholarships to Cathedral and Indiana University, where he graduated from college.
A GoFundMe effort set up for that purpose reached its initial goal of $150,000 June 13 — the day of Beaty’s funeral Mass at Cathedral High School. The fund has upped its goal to $200,000, and as of June 18, $161,163 had been raised.
Thomas said the Cathedral scholarship will extend his uncle’s legacy of leading “future generations” to the private Catholic high school where Beaty was a member of three state championship football teams.
“There are so many people from everywhere across the country who have reached out to us about what Chris did for them. It’s been an outpouring of love for him,” said Thomas, a 2015 Cathedral graduate who organized the scholarship effort.
“It has not been a surprise because Chris lived and loved passionately every day of his 38 years on this earth,” he told The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. “We encourage everyone to live like Chris — to love others boldly, to stand up for what’s right, to live every day to the fullest.”
Scholarships that provide opportunities for others are a fitting tribute to Beaty, said Nicole (Farrell) Beasley, a longtime friend who met Beaty at Cathedral.
“He always wanted to know what he could do for you. He was the ultimate giver,” said Beasley, now Cathedral’s executive vice president for advancement.
“The world witnessed a seed God planted when giving Chris life on earth. Chris always had a student he was mentoring,” she said. “He would always advocate that tuition assistance be available for students that could not afford to attend Cathedral. Through this scholarship in his name, his legacy is ensured to live out forever.”
There’s another important part of Beaty’s legacy to remember, said Rick Streiff, Cathedral’s head football coach during the time Beaty played there.
“He became a very good player but a better teammate,” said Streiff, now the school’s athletic director. “We used to talk with our teams about how your best friends in the world will be part of this team, and I believe that was true for Chris. The team loved him, and he loved the team.”
Beaty kept that focus on “team” as a foundation in his later life, Streiff said.
“We had a saying with the football team: We did not know what kind of team we had until 10 years after they were done playing. If we did it right, those young men were great husbands, fathers, employers and or employees. Chris was one that we watched with great pride because of how he lived his life,” Streiff added.
“He was the type of guy who would light up the room when he entered it — and had the ability to make everyone in the room feel like they were the most important person in the room.”
Streiff has one last wish about his former player.
“The scholarship opportunity from Chris’ family is exactly what Chris would have wanted. I hope I am around long enough to meet the kids that receive this, to let them know what Chris was all about.”
Shaughnessy is assistant editor of The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.