Braxton’s purpose: How one boy changed the lives of thousands

Published 7:32 am Thursday, February 3, 2022

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

Driving to Thompson High School to cover autism awareness night on what was already set to be an emotional evening, I had to pull off the road and take a minute to compose myself after learning some heartbreaking news.

I couldn’t help but have tears fill my eyes as I learned the news that 9-year-old Braxton Weidman had passed away following a 17-month battle with a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer called gliomatosis cerebri.

But in that moment, after saying a prayer for his family, I quickly let a smile overtake my face as I scrolled through Facebook and saw hundreds of posts already pouring in sharing their personal connection to Braxton.

How could a boy I had never met in person have such a big impact on me?

Well, it’s simple really. It was his life’s purpose.

Many look at dying from cancer as losing a battle. But it’s just the opposite, actually.

In reality, it shows your fearlessness. It shows how you handle the biggest test of your life, and that is how you beat it.

The Lord wouldn’t take you if you hadn’t passed that test or completed your purpose.

And Braxton not only passed with flying colors, he kicked cancer’s butt.

Not only did he fight every second of every day, having the normal life of an 8- and 9-year-old uprooted into a battle against one of the most depressing diseases in the world, but he inspired thousands along the way.

Many followed along with his dad Chris Weidman and mother Brandie Weidman on a daily basis through their BRAX HQ Facebook page, and Braxton’s life started to inspire more and more on a daily basis.

It eventually caught the attention of The University of Alabama football team, including several stars such as Najee Harris, which led to a special on College Gameday.

During those moments, Braxton got the opportunity to just enjoy being a kid.

In a time where he met many of his role models, he didn’t realize he was ultimately a role model to them and so many more around the world following his journey.

The Lord knew he was built to inspire others, and that is the path He sent Braxton down.

Along the way, he inspired friends, classmates, teachers, families, others with cancer, famous athletes, coaches and random strangers.

We all became invested in his journey, cheering him on every step of the way.

Truly, he inspired us all.

We felt like we became best friends with one of the most personable kids out there, as he put on a brave face even on his toughest days.

And that is how a kid, one who handled more in the last two years than most of us handle in a lifetime, made thousands adore him, whether they knew him or not.

Cancer doesn’t define Braxton. The legacy he created, what he stood for, and the fight for not only himself but so many others he got to know battling the disease is what defines Braxton Weidman.

He gave a burning desire for each of us to want to be better, look at the positives in our life and just be thankful.

And for the hundreds of thousands of lives he touched, we’ll each carry a piece of Braxton’s spirit with us.

That was his purpose.

For those wishing to celebrate Braxton, his family will hold a visitation and service at Asbury United Methodist Church this Saturday, Feb. 5, from 9-10:45 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family is also asking for donations to Make-A-Wish Alabama in Braxton’s name and Ian’s Friends Foundation to continue helping cancer research to hopefully find a cure for childhood cancer.