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Casey Stockton Memorial bass tourney set for May 21

The time has come again for fishermen and fisherwomen everyone to grab their rods for day of fishing with a good cause.

The 3rd Annual Casey Stockton Memorial Scholarship Bass Tournament is set for May 21 at Slick Rock Boat Ramp, Cedar Creek Lake. The tournament, which lasts from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., costs a $60 entry fee per boat, which benefits the Casey Stockton Scholarship Fund.

Casey was 23 when he died suddenly in 2012. His untimely passing was the catalyst for an idea proposed by fishing buddies – the memorial fishing tourney.

“Casey was a member of the Belgreen Bass Club, and they were actually the ones who came to us and told us they wanted to have a tournament each year to honor Casey’s memory and to help fund the scholarship,” explained mother Lisa Stockton. “He loved the guys that were in the bass club. They were like a second family to him. He would come home on the nights they had their meetings and talk to us for hours about all that happened.

“It meant the world to us when they told us they were going to do this. Casey would be thrilled that they are having this tournament.”

Casey’s family had already established the scholarship fund upon his passing – Stockton said they asked for donation in lieu of flowers “because we knew that the flowers would fade away but that a scholarship would be a way for us to keep Casey’s memory alive and to help a student pay for their college education.” The tournament because a perfect way to help further that vision – and to keep the mission connected to Casey’s memory in a special way.

“Casey fished so many tournaments – it seemed like every weekend he was in one,” Stockton said. “He usually fished those tournaments with one of his best friends, Catlin Stults or Kelby James, who are brothers. Now both of them fish each year in his tournament.”

Additionally, Stockton said one of Casey’s greatest mentors in his life, Ronnie Wray, does most

of the organizing of his tournament and fishes with his grandson in the tournament, and the Belgreen Bass Club has stayed heavily involved.

“It means a lot to us for their support,” Stockton said. “He had just started volunteering with the Belgreen Bass Club, taking young anglers out to fish that were not yet old enough to have boating license.”

The memorial scholarship originally provided only a scholarship for a Russellville High School graduating student, but as the tournament has grown, so has the number of scholarships awarded. Past recipients include RHS Jackson Smith, RHS Chase Holland, BHS Lexi Bragwell, RHS Luke Bendall and BHS Ben Inman. Stockton said they hope to see both the number of scholarships and the amount of the scholarship increase year after year as the tournament continues to grow.

Stockton said this year’s scholarships have increased to $1,000. This year will still see scholarships awarded, but she hopes next year it will be three.

“Last year we were able to make the scholarship a 501(c)3 charitable organization, and we feel like that has helped with sponsorship as the donations are now tax deductible,” she added.

Of course, scholarship winners aren’t the only ones coming out of the tourney with a little money in their pockets. Prize money will be awarded as follows for this year’s tourney winners: first place, $500, second place, $250, third place, $150, fourth place, $100, fifth place, $50, lunker, $200, and lucky seven, $100.

“Casey loved to fish, and he loved the lakes in Franklin County,” Stockton said. “When he was a little boy, we would ask what he wanted to do for a career when he got older, and he always told us, ‘I want to be a professional fisherman or to work at Mossy Oak as a hunting guide.’”

Stockton said their hopes for the future of the scholarship fund and tournament are many.

“As a parent of a child who has passed away, you never want people to forget your child. For us, we felt that this would a great way to keep his memory alive and to be able to help someone else,” she said. “We hope this scholarship will be a tool that allows someone to fulfill their goal of going to college and living their life to the fullest. It is also our hope that the student who receives this scholarship will use it to make a difference in the community they call home and will always be willing to pay it forward.”

Entry forms are being accepted now for the tournament and can be mailed or turned in at the ramp the morning of the tournament. For more information or to obtain an entry form, call Ronnie Wray at 256-627-8898, or mail entry forms to Ronnie Wray, 501 Highway 44, Russellville, AL 35654. Forms should include name, address including city and state, phone number and signature for each boater (two contestants only per boat).

“This tournament has been such a blessing to us,” Stockton said. “It’s one of the most humbling experiences to be there and see those boats head out on the water the morning of the tournament.

We are always so emotional on that morning.”

Stockton said the tournament has provided a measure of healing, “to know Casey’s memory and legacy is going on and touching so many lives,” and they believe Casey is looking down and loving the tournament.

“He would love that his friends are getting together and getting to fish,” she said. “He would also be very humbled to see so many of his friends and family gathered in his honor.”

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