Catch-A-Dream program memorializes young man

Forestry, Wildlife & Fisheries News
MSU Extension Service
By Ms. Bonnie A. Coblentz
September 2001

MISSISSIPPI STATE — A new program that fulfills outdoor dreams of youth with life-threatening diseases got a boost from friends of a youngster who died participating in an outdoor activity.

Sixth grader Josh Thurman died in March in an ATV accident. Not content to remember him through a traditional memorial, his class at Brookhaven Academy decided to make a gift to the Catch-A-Dream Program in Josh’s name.

The Bruce Brady Memorial Catch-A-Dream program, conducted by Mississippi State University’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries through its Field and Stream Youth Program. Catch-A-Dream grants outdoor adventures to youth 18 years old and younger who suffer from life-threatening illnesses. It is a partnership between MSU’s Extension Service, the Mississippi 4-H Club Foundation, the Mississippi Wildlife Federation and the Brady family.

Marty Brunson, Catch-A-Dream program chairman and MSU Extension Service wildlife and fisheries specialist, said the youngster’s teacher contacted him about establishing a memorial to Josh.

“Rather than one of the many fitting and appropriate memorials that students and schools often make when a friend is lost, this group of kids wanted to make a difference in the lives of other youngsters in Josh’s memory,” Brunson said.

The class decided to raise $4,000 to $5,000 to donate to Catch-A-Dream as a tribute to Josh. This contribution to the program in his name would allow the class to permanently memorialize their friend.

“The class knew of Josh’s passion for the outdoors, his enthusiasm and his desire to influence other young people,” Brunson said. “When the Catch-A-Dream program was mentioned, it was clear that this would be the perfect way to remember their friend and to ensure that his influence would reach other young people in the future.”

After several weeks of fund-raising efforts in the Brookhaven community, the class presented at their graduation a check for $4,500 to Peggy Brady, widow of the man for whom the program was named.

Lucy Watts, a sixth grade teacher at the school, said the children were involved in and excited about the fund-raising for their deceased friend.

“They’re learning responsibility and to be service-minded,” Watts said. “It’s a growing-up experience in more ways than one.”

For their contribution, the class received a recognition plaque naming them permanent Catch-A-Dream Supporting Partners. The class will also have the opportunity to meet future program recipients who benefit from the funds they contributed in Josh’s memory.

Brunson said the first Catch-A-Dream recipient spent a weekend hunting white-tailed deer at a prime location in January. Several outdoor dream experiences are being developed for the next 12 months.

Anyone interested in making a tax-deductible gift to the Catch-A-Dream program can donate cash, in-kind goods or services. Contributions can be made in memory or honor of a person, or in memory of Bruce Brady for whom the program is named. Direct donations, planned giving or fund-raising efforts are welcomed.

Contact Brunson at (662) 324-5700 or visit the website for more information or to donate to the program.