Fishing tournament in honor of late Carthage High School graduate returns

Fishing For Austin

CARTHAGE, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas mother who lost her son in a car wreck is keeping his memory alive by using his passion to raise money for a scholarship in his name.

Denise Gray says fishing was her 18-year-old son’s passion.

“He would actually skip school his senior year,” said Denise Gray, Austin’s mother. “And they would call and tell me, ‘Denise, Austin is not at school.’ And I could go to the pond by the house and say, ‘Austin, let’s go to school.’ He loved fishing.”

Just months after graduating from high school in 2018, Austin Gray was killed in a car crash in Hallsville.

“On July 4th, there was an accident at 7:38 p.m. in Hallsville,” Gray said. “A man high on meth ran a red light and took him from us.”

Denise says in the months after the wreck, she wanted to find a way to honor her son’s memory. The fishing tournament was born. It would be a fundraiser for a scholarship fund in Austin’s name that would help students like him.

“I wanted to give it to kids that wanted to go to school and didn’t have the means to go,” she said. “Students who wanted to do something technical or vocational.”

And as Denise prepares for this year’s tournament, she’s also combing through applications to pick their year’s scholarship recipients.

“I wish I wasn’t picking up applications, because I wish there wasn’t a reason to, but this was Austin’s plan,” she said. “Every bit of it. It’s what he wanted. For everybody to be one in this crazy world that we live in. We’re so divided, but during this time we’re one. And that’s what he wanted.”

The tournament is set for Saturday, May 15 at Lake Murvaul in Panola County, although the venue could be changed due to a recently reported fish kill. Boats hit the water at 6 a.m. Weigh-in is set for 3 p.m. Thousands of dollars in cash prizes are up for grabs.

The night before, Friday, May 14, Panola County Sheriff Kevin Lake will prepare a BBQ dinner at Still Waters Cowboy Church on SH 315. Dinner starts at 6 p.m., and a live auction will follow. Tickets are $10 at the door.

For more information or registration details call Sammy Peace at 903-754-3860.

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