The inspiration behind the Breathe for Bea Foundation is our special girl Ashley “Bea” Briggs. Ashley passed away on March 5th, 2017 due to complications from Cystic Fibrosis – a progressive, genetic disease which affects the lungs and digestive system – at the age of 29. She passed at Children’s Hospital in Boston at sunrise. Her mother, Katie Briggs, her sisters Lindsay and Emily Briggs, her brother, Mac Briggs, her aunt, Merci Vanasse-Vickery, and her fiancé, Jesse DaCosta, were by her side, like always, along with other family and friends who supported her throughout. It is this same group of people who loved Bea, along with others who have joined our cause along the way, that make up Team Beastrong, and who strive to remember her and honor the legacy she left.
Bea was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts on March 27th, 1987. She developed into an incredibly beautiful, sweet, caring, gentle, generous, loyal and hard-working young woman, to name but a few of her endearing qualities. Ashley had a vibrant and bubbly personality, made evident by the incredible number of friends she made over the course of her life, and was someone who would always light up the room. However, Bea’s first love was her family, and she would always spend lots of quality time with them, especially at the beach. Ashley’s love of the beach defined what was important to her in life. From her first trip to the beach as a toddler, to renting beach houses with her family and friends, to traveling to tropical beaches, to playing volleyball on the beach, she was always at home there. She was truly was her family’s “blue- eyed beach bunny”.
Despite being diagnosed with CF, like her sister Lindsay, she was a glass half full kind of person. Cystic Fibrosis did not control the Briggs’ household when the girls were very young, and as a teen and an adult, Bea did not let CF define her nor rule her life. She worked hard and played hard, and she strove to live life to the fullest. She participated in sports, ran Tough Mudders, traveled the world, was active in community service, went canoeing down the Saco River, and participated in many other activities that anyone without CF would. Cystic Fibrosis was not what she was about; Bea’s motto was “Today is a good day for a good day” and she embodied that spirit every day.
Bea also never let CF stop her from pursuing her dreams, either. She attended Sacred Heart High School in Kingston, Massachusetts, where she was president of her class and captain of her volleyball team, a sport she loved very much and would continue to play throughout her life. After graduating high school in 2005, she went on to pursue and obtain a bachelor’s degree from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Ashley then enjoyed a long professional career at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island, where she was a highly admired and respected member of their workforce. Her pursuit of her dreams didn’t end there though, and in 2015 she purchased her own home in Carver, Massachusetts – a home she affectionately referred to as 18 Rogers – a result of all of her hard work and determination.
Another thing happened in 2015 – Ashley met the love of her life, Jesse DaCosta. They moved into 18 Rogers together in the summer of 2016, and were engaged shortly after, of course on the beach! Even a dog, Sadie, came into her life, a black lab that her brother had rescued. Unfortunately, the persistent cough that’s a symptom of Cystic Fibrosis, amongst other things related to CF, had been getting worse, and Bea was getting sicker. Only a few short months after getting engaged, she passed away. However, she did so after having accomplished so much and fulfilling many of her dreams.
Bea was someone who loved strong and greatly impacted many lives, as evidenced by all the people who love her and continue to keep her spirit burning bright. It is this love that the Breathe for Bea Foundation is built upon, and will continue to fuel our efforts to help others fighting this disease until one day, a cure is hopefully found.