News Feature: Helping Out a Friend
Published Wednesday, May 19,
“You never think something like this will happen to a good friend. It’s something you just hear about,”
Kyle Jett’s good friend is Ryan Beale. At Nansemond-Suffolk, they were lacrosse and basketball teammates and standouts. Both were three-sport athletes as Beale played volleyball in the fall and Jett played football.
They especially starred on the lacrosse field. Jett went on to play at Hampden-Sydney and was one of the best midfielders the Tigers have had during his four years. Beale, a strong long-stick defender, played at Lynchburg College. They were conference rivals as Tigers vs. Hornets during the ’08 and ’09 seasons.
On Oct. 17, 2009, in Beale’s junior year at Lynchburg, he was in a single-car accident in Georgia and wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.
Beale survived, but was paralyzed from the waist down. He spent from October to April in Atlanta’s Shepherd Center, one of the best spinal cord centers in the country, before recently being able to come back to Suffolk. Even with the care and therapy at the Shepherd Center, it’s the tip of the iceberg of what Beale has in front of him.
“No matter how hard working you are, no matter how athletic you are, it doesn’t matter, everything can change in a matter of seconds, especially if you’re not wearing a seatbelt. You can be strong and athletic. It doesn’t matter,” Jett said.
“Every time I get in a car now, I think about it,” Jett said.
More than that though, Jett is helping a friend who’s helped him plenty of times before.
“It’s hard not to want to help out when it comes to Ryan and his family. They’re a great family and his parents are the nicest people you’ll ever meet,” Jett said. “He’s always been there for me, so I was trying to think of a way to help out financially since the accident and everything after has put a big burden on his family.”
Jett has organized the Ryan Beale Charity Golf Classic set for Friday, June 18 at Nansemond River Golf Club.
Beale’s personality, even now, makes this an easy project says Jett.
“Ryan is such a well-liked guy, by everyone…at NSA, younger kids in the lacrosse program always loved him, too, because he was a hard worker and because of how he played,” Jett said.
Beale’s play on the field was perfectly fitting of a fast, 6-foot-2 athlete wielding 6-foot-long defender’s stick. Discretion, or simply getting rid of the ball, was often the smart choice for an offensive player if Beale was closing in.
“And he was so well-liked because of his sense of humor. He still has it and it’s great that he’s still joking with us. It’s great because that’s how we know him, so it would’ve been difficult to see him not like that,” Jett said.
“He’s made it easier for his friends and family. He’s not getting down and that’s what’s good to see,” Jett said.
About 60 golfers are registered for the tournament so far. Jett’s goal is for a total of 144 players.
Jett’s even drawing enthusiastic support from places perhaps surprising at first.
“A lot of lacrosse friends from Cape Henry and Norfolk Academy are signing up, too. We played with and versus these guys for 10 years or so,” Jett said.
There are still plenty of openings for golfers, as well as sponsors or anyone wishing to donate items for a silent auction.
The tournament is a Florida Best Ball format, with a shotgun start set for 1 p.m. For more information, Jett can be reached at JettK@hsc.edu.
This story was featured in the May 19th edition of the Suffolk News-Herald (www.suffolknewsherald.com) by Andrew Giermak.