Area Man Battling Terminal Illness Continues to Give Back

Event will benefit efforts to help families struggling with illness.

Brandon Regan continues to fight back against a degenerative brain disease. Credit: Regan family
Brandon Regan continues to fight back against a degenerative brain disease. Credit: Regan family
Brandon Regan has already beaten the odds. In 2011, as he battled a degenerative brain disease, he was told he had six months — a year, tops — to live.

More than two years later, the 27-year-old Romeoville man is still here, and he's giving back to others through a foundation created in his name.

Team Beefer Just Smile — named for Brandon's nickname and contagious smile — will host an Oct. 19 fundraiser to help families struggling with illness.

"A lot of people took care of us in our time of need," dad Robert Regan said. "We're giving back a little."

Brandon, who suffers from ataxia of unknown origin, has seen the kindness of others firsthand. Two years ago, a benefit held in his honor raised enough to pay for his future funeral expenses.

And when donors found out the tally wasn't enough to fulfill Brandon's ultimate dream — meeting his idol, Garth Brooks — they continued raising money to help make it happen. In January 2012, Brandon and his parents flew to Las Vegas where they got to see Brooks' show and meet one-on-one with the country superstar.

After being on the receiving end, Brandon wanted to give back, Robert said.

"Brandon overheard me and (wife) Cheri talking about a friend of ours who was battling cancer and couldn't walk," Robert said. "He said, 'Why don't you give her my wheelchair?'"

That act of kindness inspired the family to do even more, and they founded Team Beefer Just Smile.

"We built this company for the day when Brandon's not here with us anymore and a little piece of him can live on," Robert said. So far, fundraisers hosted by the organization have helped several area families deal with expenses related to illness.

Oct. 19 fundraiser

Saturday's event is set for 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. at American Legion Harwood Post, 705 S. Larkin Ave. in Joliet.

The event will feature performances by area bands Timing is Everything, Hillbilly Rockstars and Suburban Cowboys. Along with live music, guests can enjoy food including burgers, hot dogs and bratwurst, plus raffles and prizes.

Robert said the suggested donation is $10 at the door, but everyone is welcome, regardless of their ability to pay.

"It's more about a celebration of life — a celebration of [Brandon's] life and his dreams," Robert said. Although it's still unclear whether Brandon will be well enough to attend the event, his dad said he hasn't given up.

"We've had those unfortunate talks with him, 'It's OK if you're tired and want to go home, it'll be OK,'" Robert said. "He says, 'I'm not going anywhere.'"

Robert said Brandon is intent on fulfilling a promise he made to Garth Brooks, who told the Romeoville family he intends to come out of retirement as soon as his youngest daughter graduates from high school in May 2014.

Brandon vowed he would see Brooks on his comeback tour.

"They shook on it," Robert said, adding of Brandon's will to live, "He's got a lot of fight in him."

For more information on Brandon, join his Facebook fan page.



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