A new charity honoring the late Beau Biden’s work on behalf of abused children was announced Tuesday, three days after his death at 46 due to brain cancer.
His widow, Hallie, and the Delaware Community Foundation introduced the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children, which aims to carry on his “life’s passion: protecting the most vulnerable among us,” according to a press release from Biden’s former campaign political director Josh Alcorn.
The foundation was announced at the same time as funeral arrangements for Vice President Joe Biden’s eldest child.
Beau’s loved ones will gather this week for public services in his honor, including a viewing on Friday and a burial at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Office of the Vice President.
Beau’s widow, Hallie, has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations should be made to the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children.
During his first year in office as attorney general of Delaware, Beau created a Child Predator Task Force in order to track down and arrest people who commit sex offenses against children, The News Journal reports.
In an op-ed Beau wrote for The News Journal last year, he said the task force had convicted nearly 200 child sex abusers and rescued about 120 children from abusive situations. One of the biggest cases was that of Delaware pediatrician Earl Bradley, who was convicted in 2011 of the rape and abuse of more than 100 child patients. Bradley is currently serving a prison sentence of 14 life terms, plus 164 years with chance of parole, according to The News Journal.
“As adults, we have a legal and moral obligation to stand up and speak out for children who are being abused – they cannot speak for themselves,” Beau wrote at the time. “We have seen the progress that can be made when society commits to shining a bright light on a crime like domestic violence, and we are seeing the beginning of what can be accomplished if we continue shining that bright light on child abuse.”
Fred Sears, a close friend of the Bidens who runs the Delaware Community Foundation, tells The News Journal that he reached out to the family on Sunday, one day after Beau’s death, to offer to create a charity in his honor. Alcorn called him that night and said they would like to “set up something to protect abused kids,” Sears says. “This is all about the Bradley case.”
“It’s going to be a positive thing,” Sears says of the foundation, which will help both groups and individuals. “Many people have said they want to do something to honor Beau and here is a way you can help and feel good about something and remember Beau.”
Close friends of the late politician, who was expected to run for governor of Delaware in 2016, tell PEOPLE that nothing was more important to him than his efforts to protect children.
“I will never forget being with him in a meeting when the news broke about a pediatrician who was found to have abused patients. Beau was stricken,” recalls Sonia Sloan, a family friend and campaign worker who has known the Bidens since 1970. “He was going to make sure this person was brought to justice. He was committed to children and to seeing that children were protected.”
Margaret Aitken, a former press secretary for the vice president who had known Beau since they were both 14, tells PEOPLE, “When Beau ran his dad’s Senate re-election campaign, he would travel with his dad and listen to people’s stories and he would take those things on.”
“Protecting the most vulnerable population was important to him – kids or people who can’t take care of themselves,” she adds. “That was in Beau’s heart. During his tenure as attorney general, he made that the centerpiece.”
Ron Klain, a family friend and former chief of staff to the vice president, says Beau had an “exceptional sense of duty” that compelled him to put “his public services ahead of everything.”
“Beau obviously had the chance to run for his father’s seat in the Senate in 2010 and chose not to. He was prosecuting an important case of child molestation and he thought it was his duty to that case and the victims that was more important than running for office,” Klain explains. “That’s the kind of dedication and commitment and duty that’s rare in politics today.”
• Reporting by SARA HAMMEL