It was just a little over two years ago when Clint and Tara Beatty and son Colin suffered through the pain of seeing the life of their younger son, 8-year-old son Nathan, stolen by cancer.

Nathan’s tough 10-month battle with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) ended on Independence Day — July 4, 2017. His doctors had discovered that Nathan’s DIPG, a rare and usually fatal type of brain tumor, was inoperable.

The community responded in a big way to support the Beatty family, even though they had only lived here since May 2016 after moving from El Paso.

They had at least partially gone through the grieving process when Clint began to think of ways to give back to the community.

GIVING BACK

In July of this year, his plan was revealed — on the Facebook page of the Somervell County Fire Department. In addition to serving the public in his full-time job as a DPS Patrol Trooper III, Beatty decided to became a volunteer with the SCFD.

Beatty, who will turn 35 on Oct. 24 and will reach the nine-year mark with the Highway Patrol this November, explained that he had wanted to offer his services even sooner. But, naturally, Clint and Tara’s parental desire to devote more time to Nathan changed everything.

“Really, it was as soon as I moved here,” Beatty said of wanting to join the SCFD. “Originally, it was a little bit of me being an adrenaline junky.”

But although the idea had to be put on the “back burner,” as Beatty said, a few months ago he knew he was ready to start his firefighter training with Fire Chief Mark Crawford’s crew.

“Seeing the community come together and help my family out, that led me to ‘What else can I do to give back to the community?’ That’s my way of giving back.

“We can’t say ‘thank you’ enough. But I feel like volunteering at the fire department is one way to give back and say ‘thank you’.”

Before he was a trooper, Beatty was an E5 Sergeant in the Army. He served seven years, including 15 months deployed to an area in Afghanistan that he described as being “right in the middle of the hell” of a dangerous battle region known as the Korengal Valley.

Clint’s wife, Tara, works at a pharmacy in Glen Rose. Their other son, Colin, is a 16-year-old junior at Glen Rose High School, active in choir and the school organization known as the FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America). Colin has plans to attend Tarleton State University after graduation.

With September being International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Colin was one of the primary student participants in the recent GOLD Out event held in Glen Rose to raise money for donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

HANDSOME BANANA

A more recent development is the Beatty family’s creation of a program they dubbed “Handsome Banana’s Buckets” — a foundation created in honor of Nathan’s memory.

Clint said the Handsome Banana’s Buckets idea was planted when Nathan was undergoing 30 days of radiation treatment in the radiation department next to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. The idea is for people to donate small toy gifts that will be made available to the children while they are receiving radiation treatment there.

“It was an idea Tara had. Tara used to call Nathan Handsome Banana,” Clint said. “Also, we had stickers made. We’ve got a stack of buckets and we’ve got a room full of toys. We’re shocked again of results and the ability of the people to help out someone they don’t know.”

There is a link (posted on Sept. 4) with information on Handsome Banana’s Buckets on the Facebook page “Nathan’s Journey with DIPG.”

It mentions a wish list for children’s toys that can be found on Amazon.com. The Facebook post states, “If you'd like to purchase a toy off the website and have it shipped directly to us I will post the link to the page here. Please share and help us make these children's day by giving them great celebration toys. Let's show them we think they are strong and are kicking radiation’s butt.”

One of Nathan’s favorite things was soccer, and after he passed away a memorial bench was placed at the youth soccer park in Glen Rose, featuring the words, “In loving memory” of Nathan Beatty. Under the bench is a hand impression in plaster, which had been intended to be a gift to his grandmother when Nathan was younger.

“It never became a gift,” Clint said. “Years later, we found the cast of his hand. It was placed there when they poured the foundation for the bench. Nathan’s bench is looking toward the soccer fields, because that was Nathan’s thing.”

The Beattys know the love they had for Nathan, as well as all of the fond memories will always live on. 

“That’s what keeps his memory alive in us, is to focus on all the good times he had with us,” Beatty said. “Focusing on the good memories we had with Nathan is what keeps us driving.”