From an early age, Brandon Paul loved sports — Little League baseball, Pop Warner and both middle and high school football, track and weightlifting.
After his tragic death in March 2017 when the 23-year-old went overboard from the eighth deck of a Carnival Victory cruise ship 33 miles off the coast of Cuba, family friends organized a memorial golf tournament and raised enough money to be able to give $1,000 scholarships to three Citrus High School graduating student athletes in 2018.
Since then, the Brandon Paul Memorial Foundation’s annual golf tournament at The Oaks Golf Course in Citrus Hills has raised enough money to give $1,000 scholarships to a total of 20 graduating student athletes from all three Citrus County public high schools, said Mark Paul, Brandon’s dad.
And despite the 2020 tournament being canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, they still were able to give out scholarships.
In 2021, six students, two from each county high school, received a $1,000 scholarship.
“This year’s tournament was sold out,” Mark Paul said.
On Friday, Brandon’s parents, Mark and Sue Paul, brother Brady and his wife, Lauren, and Brandon’s 3-month-old nephew, Braxton, presented Citrus County Parks and Rec with 20 soccer balls, 20 footballs and several sports-related games such as horseshoes, Spikeball Pro and Kubb, a strategy yard game.
“They’ve been kind enough to let us borrow tables and chairs for our golf tournaments, so we wanted to show our appreciation to them,” Mark Paul said.
As the Pauls gathered in the lobby area at the county resource building with Manny Coimbre, the county sports and events coordinator, and Andrea Cuccaro, recreation specialist, Sue Paul talked about her middle son, Brandon.
“Our son loved sports,” she said, “and now we want to do what we can to help the youth of Citrus County so we can let people know that Brandon is still with us.”