Opening Hearts and Homes

SCU families open their doors to a cross-country cycling team raising money in memory of water polo player Julian Fraser ’18.

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Team Julian cyclists Alec Fraser, left, and Jamie Meehan, right, in the Rocky Mountains in northern Colorado, about 2,000 miles from the Fraser family home in Connecticut. Photos provided by Cristy Fraser.

Team Julian’s grueling, 4,650-mile cross-country cycling trek in memory of Julian Fraser ’18 comes to an end Friday afternoon. That’s when Julian’s father, Alec Fraser, and family friend Jamie Meehan arrive at Sullivan Aquatic Center in time for the 3:30 p.m. Julian Fraser Memorial Water Polo Tournament.

It’s not the number of blisters, or changing landscapes, or PB&J sandwiches consumed they’ll remember most, but the random acts of kindness from strangers along the way—including Santa Clara alumni and parents.

Followed by their wives, Cristy Fraser and Gina Modica, in a minivan, Team Julian’s self-funded odyssey that started Aug. 15, 2021, from the Fraser home in Old Greenwich, Conn., aims to raise $500,000 for pediatric cancer research.

Julian, a popular two-time All-American member of SCU’s water polo team, died Feb. 21, 2017, 11 months after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.

“The goal of the ride is threefold,” says Cristy Fraser. “To honor Julian’s courageous battle with cancer, to raise crucial funds for research so that other children need not suffer as Julian did from this horrible disease, and to pull together a community of people just emerging from the COVID-19 lockdown to do something positive and hopeful for others.”

Closing in on 68 days over 17 states, the team says the compassion shown by so many individuals along the route will forever remain in their hearts.

“It’s a wonderful way to commemorate his life, and what’s been really inspiring is not our journey, but all the people and their reactions to us,” says Alec Fraser.

After relating Julian’s story, Cristy says, “total strangers reached into their pockets and pulled out whatever cash they have” to give. As of midday-Wednesday, donations—both in person and online—totaled $350,474.

TeamJF’s social media campaign, on Instagram and Facebook, and a blog by Cristy, have also attracted plenty of media attention along the way, with a segment filmed this week by the Today Show in Lodi, Calif. that will air on Friday morning, along with a live appearance. Santa Clara University women’s water polo team coach Claire Linney, who is helping men’s coach Keith Wilbur prepare for this weekend’s memorial tournament, has been reposting social media links, updating Bronco alumni and their families across the country with the team’s progress.

“To support us and be generous and welcome us—it’s been amazing,” says Alec Fraser. “This is why we love Santa Clara.”

Current and former SCU water polo players, like Tom Lennox ’24, are also doing their part. When he asked his parents, Tom and Jane Lennox, to be on the lookout for Team Julian from their home in New Albany, Ohio, they needed no further encouragement.

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SCU water polo player Julian Fraser ’18 with his parents, Cristy and Alec. Fraser died in 2017 from cancer.

After Lennox Sr. was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2007, and later recovered, he started Pelotonia, a renowned three-day cycling event that funds innovative cancer research at Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“I called Cristy and said, ‘I’ll meet you guys downtown and have a beer with you and then we’ll go back to my house, get dinner going, and have a glass of wine, share some stories, and get a good night’s sleep,’” Lennox recalls. “To spend time with them was truly inspiring. I’m lucky to know them.”

Cristy Fraser And Tow Truck
Team Julian Beach
Team Julian In Ca
From East Coast to West Coast, Team Julian has encountered so much kindness from others. Like when their minivan, wrapped in graphics publicizing their mission to raise money on behalf of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Research’s Cycle For Survival initiative, got a flat tire in Missouri over Labor Day weekend. The local AAA was swamped, so someone suggested contacting “Captain Melvin,” who helped them out free of charge. Other Bronco families opened their homes to the team for meals, hot showers, or warm beds, while others joined the cyclists for portions of their trek.

San Diego-based Molly and Ted Eldredge, parents of SCU water polo players Annie Eldredge ’19 and Ford Eldredge ’23, extended another offer, inviting the cycling team to stay for two nights in their vacation home in McCall, Idaho.

“I’m looking at the route map and, my gosh, they are so close to our cabin, maybe 45 minutes away!” recalls Molly Eldredge, whose daughter was a first-year student on the women’s polo team when Julian passed away.

“There’s such a sense of community around Julian and his family and the amazing person he was,” says Molly, who like the Lennoxes, will be attending this weekend’s tournament.  “All of us are so moved by Julian’s life and legacy.”

Mark and Jamie McClone, parents of water polo players Casidhe McClone ’14 and Graham McClone ’17—the latter a teammate of Julian’s who is joining two dozen others for the ride’s last leg on Friday from San Francisco to Santa Clara—hosted meals for the team in Gualala, Mendocino County.

“What we are doing is nothing compared to the effort of their coast-to-coast trip,” says Jamie McClone. “This is a healing journey. We can do so much with our pain, and they have chosen to take their loss and turn it into something so positive. They just keep giving back.”

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