SURREY - A standing room only crowd packed St. Matthew's Catholic Church Monday morning to pay their respects to Holy Cross basketball star Tessa Beauchamp.
Friends of the Beauchamp family were joined by members of the high school basketball community in honouring Tessa's memory at the Fleetwood church. Father Augustine Obiwumma led the service and focused his message on Tessa's courage and determination in the face of adversity.
Tessa passed away at the age of 18 on the morning of Jan. 27 at the Canuck Place hospice in Vancouver following a long battle with cancer.
Despite the effects of the disease, Tessa played basketball for as long as she could. She was a member of the provincial girls under-16 team in 2009 and helped Holy Cross win multiple B.C. Catholic titles as well as the 2011 Surrey Firefighters Goodwill Classic.
Monday's service was also well attended by representatives of assorted fire departments from across the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. As a toddler, Tessa sustained severe burns to her back when a party dress she was wearing caught fire. She attended burn camps every summer up to age 18 and obviously made an impression on the hose and ladder set. Uniformed firefighters escorted Tessa's casket into the church and later formed a long row lining the church's exit.
The funeral mass was followed by a celebration of life at the Langley Events Centre.
In lieu of flowers, mourners were asked to make donations to the Tessa Beauchamp Memorial Foundation. Donations by cheque (payable to "In Trust for Tessa Beauchamp") can be mailed to Holy Cross High School, 16193 88th Ave., Surrey, B.C., V4N 1G3.
Donations can also be made online through the school at www.holycross.bc.ca (click on "Strength for Tessa"), or at any Vancity Credit Union (deposit to branch #12 account #436865).