On July 7, 2018, Olathe North senior Brian Beach was honored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) and Sporting KC as the July Blue KC Sporting Samaritan.
“Brian is an incredible student-athlete,” said Christina Lively, Department Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Blue KC. “He represents everything we look for when selecting honorees for the Blue KC Sporting Samaritan program."
Brian is using his running talents for a greater purpose than winning medals. Since 2015—his first of two (so far) State Champion cross country seasons with the Olathe North Eagles—he’d been trying to find a way to use running to help others. He contacted local lower-income elementary schools to investigate starting running clubs for the kids, but of the ones that called him back, they all already had such clubs. He tried speaking to young runners through clubs, but only got one opportunity and didn’t feel like he made much of an impact.
“At this point I realized that organizing meaningful community service is actually really difficult and takes a lot more than just a desire to do something, I felt that what could have been God’s calling in my life just wasn’t meant to be,” said Brian, who, in addition to his two state cross country titles also earned a perfect score on his ACTs this spring. “I was starting to realize why so few high schoolers, especially those involved in other extracurricular activities, ever start charities.”
After attending the faith-based Summit Youth Academy last summer, Brian returned to school and shared his idea with his cross-country teammates. To Brian’s surprise, they were 100 percent on board with one very lofty goal that would fulfill a greater purpose: hosting a charity 5K.
“I might have been a bit cynical of their optimism at first because I had tried something on a much smaller scale and it dwindled down to nearly nothing,” said Brian. “I figured that the 5K would be an even bigger disappointment. However, as I continued to work with my friends on the project, I realized that perhaps instead of dreaming too big, I had been dreaming too small all along.”
With help from Don and Leslie Nottberg of the nonprofit organization Shoes Kansas City, Brian and his teammates went to work planning the race. The event would raise money to buy new running shoes for cross country and track programs in low-income schools in the Kansas City area. The goal would be to help the student-athletes avoid common injuries that come from running in improper footwear and to relieve them from worrying about the high price tags that come from quality running shoes, allowing them to enjoy the safety and comfort of shoes meant for the sport.
“I’m really proud of the work we’ve done on the Kilometers for Kicks 5K,” said Brian, who gives much credit to his teammates for their roles in the success of the event. “At most other schools, I’m not sure if I would be able to get seven other guys on board with an idea for a charity race, but at Olathe North, I have found a cross country team that is willing and eager to take on this challenge and a student body that is supportive of our mission.”
On June 16, 2018, 130 runners lined up at a starting line at Olathe North High School, allowing Brian and his teammates to raise nearly $5,000 for the purchase of running shoes.
“To see a high school student pursuing and achieving a goal that is bigger than himself is fantastic,” said Lively. “We wish him the best of luck in whatever path he chooses for his future beyond Olathe North.”
With Blue KC Sporting Samaritans being honored monthly at Children’s Mercy Park during Sporting home games, fans are encouraged to nominate students and teachers like Brian who are making a positive impact on their schools and in their communities. To nominate, visit https://www.sportingkc.com/bluekc.