Craig Beckinger, left, with family members celebrating Christmas in December 2022. (Photo courtesy of Craig Beckinger.)

As the sixth member in his immediate family to battle cancer, Craig Beckinger is going to bat for those in a similar fight for their lives as he campaigns for Visionary of the Year for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) for the north Florida region.

The candidate who raises the most money for LLS from Thursday, February 23 through Friday, May 5 earns the title.

“My mom and maternal grandmother survived cancer and my maternal grandfather and paternal grandparents died from cancer, so dealing with cancer was nothing new for me,” Beckinger said. “But when I got diagnosed with cancer, I couldn’t say a word. I was just so scared.”

Diagnosed in August 2017 with high-grade B-cell lymphoma, Beckinger in December celebrated Christmas with his mother and her mother, who at age 104 stands as a warrior who battled two cancers.

“Too often after diagnosis people fear the worst,” Beckinger said. “I was there, and I can tell you, without the right mindset, the odds are against you. I chose hope and faith, and to focus on living my life regardless of the challenges faced in my cancer battle. I learned from others, and I hope to be an inspiration to others in return.”

Beckinger faced life-altering news as well in 2010, when his partner of 14 years, Kimberly John Schave, died from complications from diabetes. Beckinger four years later quit his job at Darden Restaurants to launch his own business, ABC Event Planning.

“I realized with Kim’s passing that life is short, it’s time to do what I love doing,” Beckinger said. “Kim was very involved helping others and supporting causes. He would be extremely happy that I’m stepping up for LLS.”

According to LLS, more than 1.2 million people are living with or in remission from lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, myeloma and leukemia, which is the number one most diagnosed form of childhood cancer.

For more on Craig’s Champions for a Cure Team, call Beckinger at 561-876-6845. Fundraising events include drag queen bingo at The Regent in Riverview on Thursday, April 20 and a fashion show at Eddie V’s Prime Seafood Restaurant in Tampa on Saturday, April 22.

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