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In Memory of Volunteer Lindsay Beckstrom: Living Her Purpose

28 Apr 2020
In Memory of Volunteer Lindsay Beckstrom: Living Her Purpose

On April 11, loving sister, loyal friend and devoted Operation Smile volunteer Lindsay Beckstrom lost her two-year battle with breast cancer.

Rather than focusing on how she died, Lindsay’s family and closest friends choose to highlight how she lived.

Instilled with a desire to make a positive impact on the world, Lindsay grabbed onto opportunities that enabled her to spread happiness, create laughter and make a difference in the lives of people around her.

“She knew how to love. It didn't matter color of skin, religion, sexual orientation, financial status – none of that mattered to Lindsay,” said Shannon McQuarrie, Lindsay’s sister. “She loved everyone and figured out a way to make everyone feel so special. She was loving and affectionate and it showed in everything she did. She was full of life.”

Before volunteering with Operation Smile as a child life specialist, Lindsay studied recreational therapy at Brigham Young University. It was during that time that she discovered a passion for caring for patients born with cleft conditions.

For years, she utilized her talents and unbridled compassion to care for patients at two children’s hospitals in Utah.

But Lindsay wanted more.

After receiving multiple emails promoting child life opportunities available with Operation Smile, Lindsay seized the chance to be a volunteer.

Starting in 2017 and continuing throughout the following three years, Lindsay traveled to the Philippines, Morocco, Ghana and Egypt, touching the lives of hundreds of children and families during medical missions.

She put her whole heart into everything she did, and her selflessness shined through her volunteerism around the world.

Lindsay’s kindness and generosity emerged weeks prior to her even seeing the first patient arrive for screening. Creating GoFundMe pages to raise money for supplies and toys for each mission she attended was just one way Lindsay went above and beyond in her role.

“She used her own money to buy whatever she needed to make sure that half of her suitcase was full of child life goodies and toys. From pipe cleaners to bubbles and toy cars,” Shannon said. “She’d spend hours online to find creative ideas to keep kids calm and entertained - especially in countries where culture and language were barriers.”

The phrase Lindsay often used to describe her work with the organization was “life-changing.”

“I always feel like I’m living in my purpose when I’m on a mission with Operation Smile,” Lindsay shared in a social post. “There is nothing else like it in the world.”

No matter where she was in the world or how exhausting the day had been for her, Lindsay always called her family back home to share stories of rewarding moments she’d been a part of that day.

“She never wanted to come home,” Shannon said. “Her end goal was to eventually work full-time for Operation Smile. Had she won her battle with cancer, she would’ve done anything to work full-time. She really felt like she was a part of a family.”

The joy and love Lindsay spread wasn’t limited to Operation Smile missions.

"Lindsay and I not only shared a passion for Operation Smile, but also a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer," said Wendy Ladley, friend to Lindsay and Operation Smile employee. "After my diagnosis, Lindsay took the time to help me navigate as her world became my world. She was always honest, even on the hardest days, but also always hopeful. She knew that she made a difference in this world. She has certainly had an everlasting impact in mine. No matter what you're facing, know that Lindsay would be cheering you on with that bright, beautiful smile. She's going to be missed terribly, but we will carry her hope and light forward. 

Even in her local community, people witnessed how eager and committed she was to bringing hope and smiles to those around her.

Following her cancer diagnosis, and hoping to showcase how special Lindsay was as a person, a neighbor nominated her for a “High 5” – an award presented by the local news station in Utah. The award recognizes a person in the community who’s giving selflessly by striving to leave the world in a better place than when they found it.

While Lindsay is no longer with us to help bring smiles to children around the world, the memory of her sacrifice and genuine love for all live on within her family, friends, fellow volunteers and patients with whom had the pleasure of personally feeling the impact she made.