Trey Whiteside was just 16 years old when his vehicle overturned on N.C. 150 in Lincolnton.
He succumbed to his injuries less than 24 hours later, perishing in a Charlotte hospital.
Since his death in June 2005, his family has been working to keep his memory and legacy alive with both an annual golf tournament and scholarship opportunity for high school seniors in Lincoln County, the same county where Trey was born and bred, his stepmother Toni Whiteside said.
Senior students from each of the local public high schools including North, East and West Lincoln and Lincolnton High School are encouraged to apply now through April 8.
A special scholarship committee, comprised of Whiteside family members and friends, will choose the winners and announce each of the recipients on each of the schools’ designated scholarship days for seniors — a day held just before graduation each June, Toni said.
While grades are part of the scoring process, they do not significantly contribute to the committee’s final decision.
The group is most interested in each student’s financial position.
“We want someone for whom (college) is truly a financial burden,” Toni said.
The application process does not require an essay of any kind, and each winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship.
The Whiteside family is able to fund the scholarships through money collected from the Trey Whiteside Memorial Golf Tournament.
Established the same year he died, the tournament just seemed like the “right thing to do,” Toni said, in order to remember her stepson.
The following year, in 2006, the family started the Trey Whiteside Memorial Scholarship.
“We definitely wanted to do something to remember him,” Toni said, “and in doing that, we would also honor him and help those in need. This just seemed to be a good fit, knowing Trey and his personality. He really had a heart for people in need…He would be proud of this.”
Family members hope to raise enough money in the years to come that they will only have to utilize the fund’s interest to pay for the scholarships.
Through giving money to students in need and carrying out a fun golf event each year, the family finds healing.
“The scholarship is one of the things that keeps our family going and helps us cope with Trey’s death,” Toni said. “We are truly blessed to be able to do this.”
Simultaneously thankful for the community’s continued support and tearful for the reason behind it, the family always cries tears of “joy and sadness” once the tournament and scholarship handouts have taken place each year, Toni said.
On average, the tournament draws in $8,000 annually.
On May 3, the golf tournament will celebrate its ninth consecutive year at the Lincoln Country Club, where officials have called it the largest annual fundraiser held at the facility, Toni said. Cost to participate is $50.
More than 60 teams annually register — many of them the same competitors from year-to-year.
“We have so many faithful players and sponsors,” Toni said. “It fills up really fast.”
Trey had actually been on his way home from a benefit golf tournament in Concord when his vehicle crashed.
His father had grown concerned about him after calling his phone and receiving no answer, Toni said. Her husband then drove down N.C. 150, where he soon heard the sirens and spotted the terrifying scene.
The wreck happened just one month before the North Lincoln High School student’s 17th birthday. He would have been a senior that fall.
A player on the Knights basketball team and avid skateboarder, Trey also participated on the school’s DECA team and in his youth group at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Lincolnton.
He also enjoyed hanging out with friends and being as active as possible, Toni said.
Last year, Trey’s friends changed the roadside memorial marking the teen’s crash site. Initially, the group had placed both a cross and two halves of a skateboard in a heart shape along the side of N.C. 150, Toni said.
Because the items had become worn by rain and other outdoor conditions, friends opted to replace the memorial with something more durable and weatherproof.
To participate or help sponsor the Trey Whiteside Memorial Golf Tournament, call Mike Bowen at (704) 732-1631.
To apply for a scholarship, call (704) 477-6967 or check with a school guidance counselor for an application.