Billy Grey died of glioblastoma multiforme on July 13, 2001, just short of his 13th birthday. His life was always one of remarkable strength, courage and love. Billy was at ease with people of all ages, giving him insight and sensitivity to others. Billy never lost his passion and spirit for life. He was an exceptional athlete whether it was hockey, baseball, soccer or any other sport. Billy loved his three years at Albany Academies where he grew scholastically and as a human being. He was honored with the Simmons Award upon completion of the sixth grade and was posthumously granted a degree of completion of middle school. In honor of Billy, the school established a scholarship in his name for the seventh grade student who exemplifies the true character of the Academy.
Billy participated in all medical decisions that affected him and he allowed me, his father, to fundraise on his behalf for the Brain Tumor Society. After emergency brain tumor surgery in 1999, I recall when I asked Billy early on in his diagnosis for his permission to participate in the Ride for Research for TBTS, Billy responded, “What do you want to do?” I answered that I wanted to do it. Billy said, “Then do it.”
This research chair will be strengthened by the spirit and character in which Billy lived his life and changed the lives of those he encountered. His family experienced unsurpassed dedication from medical personnel in the search to cure brain tumors.
The Duke Brain Tumor team was and is exceptional in giving help to patients diagnosed with all grades of brain tumors. Because of this, Billy’s diagnosis of 20-24 weeks turned into 21 months. He continued to battle the disease by participating in the Phase I/II clinical trial of SU5416 conducted through the Jimmy Fund in Boston. During the six week trial, Billy travelled from Saratoga Springs to Boston two times a week, while still attending school.
Billy would have wanted his struggles to have meaning and make a difference for those diagnosed in the future. As a testament to his courage, on December 30, 2001, Billy’s friend Devon and I had the honor of carrying the Olympic Torch on its way to Salt Lake City in his memory.