Story by Mary Martin. Photos courtesy of Botham Jean Foundation
This year on September 29th, Botham Jean would have celebrated his 28th birthday. Instead, a Red Tie Gala will celebrate his life’s work, and raise the funds necessary to see it continue.
On September 6, 2018, Botham’s life was cut short when he was shot in his own home by an off-duty police officer. One look at the tragic and question-filled circumstance could have easily sent his family and loved-ones into deep isolation and despair. But through the past year, a different question has risen above the noise—how can we be like Bo?
Allisa Findley, Botham’s sister and President of the Botham Jean Foundation, described her brother as an old soul. “From a young age, he loved being around the elderly,” she shared. “During one trip to St. Lucia with Harding, he met a group of seniors and found out that it was one woman’s birthday. He went to buy her a cake with candles, so everyone could celebrate with her. He wanted everyone to feel happy and loved.”
Born in St. Lucia, Botham was drawn to helping the Caribbean community there. He often returned with other Harding University classmates and alumni to volunteer with the Saint Lucia Boys Training Center (BTC), a juvenile rehabilitation residential facility providing life-skills through education, vocational training and character-building programs for teenage boys. The work at BTC is now a cause that the Botham Jean Foundation has adopted, along with the Marian Home for the Elderly, and New Beginnings Transit home, a safe place for children who have been exploited or neglected.
The Foundation is also considering new projects to receive funding, looking forward to expand the legacy of Botham Jean. “We don’t want to be hasty,” said Allisa. “We want to select something Bo would love. When we heard about the work of Anidaso, I just felt like he would have been connected to this.” Anidaso is a Dallas-based nonprofit that works to provide clean water, health programs, and education in West Africa. One of the first funded projects from the Botham Jean Foundation was building a clean water well in Botham’s honor.
“Anidaso means hope in the Ghanian language of Twi,” explained Martha Leeson, Anidaso’s founder. “We believe clean water, healthcare, and education are basic human rights. It was our honor to be a part of digging a water well in a rural village in the Western region of Ghana in Botham’s memory. This village was in desperate need of clean drinking water especially at the school where the well is located. It is our hope that every child has access to clean water. We believe clean water gives hope and hope gives life.”
Allisa plans to continue the foundation’s work with Anidaso, as well as continuing the search for more charitable work which speaks to Botham’s life and legacy. At the core, it is clear Botham cared deeply for people. “When we spoke to all of his friends after his death, each of them said that Bo was their best friend. We lost count of best friends,” Allisa said.
To support The Botham Jean Foundation, tickets are still available for the Red Tie Gala on September 29. You can also support their work with an online donation, or find out more through social media or the foundation’s website.
If you know someone who is Doing Good in Dallas, we’d love to hear about it! Share their story with us.