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Local foundation creates Thomas A. Bryson Legacy Fund

Thomas A. "Tommy" Bryson and Allison Lynette "Lynn" Bryson are shown with their grandchildren. Thomas A. "Tommy" Bryson and Allison Lynette "Lynn" Bryson are shown with their grandchildren.

The family of Thomas A. “Tommy” Bryson, the Mills River man whose death has triggered a huge outpouring of sympathy, has asked those who wish to honor Bryson direct contributions through the Henderson County Community Foundation to a new fund created Friday.

Days after friends and supporters of the Bryson family launched separate Go Fund Me campaigns, Bryson family members began to look into how they could direct the campaigns into one effort. Working with the family, the Community Foundation acted quickly and finalized the Thomas A. Bryson Legacy Fund on Friday, said McCray Benson, president of the foundation.
“I think it gives some advantages to give charitable donations that the family can use for charitable purposes that they choose,” Benson said. “It does reflect the family’s wishes to do it within their timing of what’s comfortable for them. The family is going through their mourning. This is not something they want to do the business side of right away.”

Investigators believe Bryson, 68, was murdered soon after he was kidnapped on Wednesday morning, July 26. His body was found Sunday night in a Buncombe County cornfield. Phillip Michael Stroupe II, 38, faces first degree murder charges in his death.

A friend of the family who graduated from West Henderson High School in 1991 with Rick Bryson said the friends and family are in complete support of the switch. Classmates established WHHS Tommy Bryson Memorial Go Fund Me campaign. They pulled the plug on it Friday and asked donors to give to the Bryson fund at the Community Foundation.
“After discussions with the family the mission of this fund have shifted purely to Tommy Bryson's legacy and will be used 100% toward that end,” an updated message on the Go Fund Me page said. “The money raised as of August 4, 2018 will be donated in its entirety to the Thomas A. Bryson legacy fund at the Community Foundation of Henderson County at the request of the family.”
The WHHS graduate spoke about the effort to redirect the campaign to the Community Foundation said she did not want to be quoted because no one wants to take credit for the fundraising effort.

The first project to be funded will be a Mills River Park basketball court as a fitting memorial for a man who loved watching both UNC Tar Heels and West Henderson High School Falcons basketball games to the community that loved him back.
Two other family friends, Kaylie Taylor and Taylor Gladin, also started a Go Fund Me campaign.
“His family is a lovely group of extraordinary teachers, coaches, and church mentors, as well as the strongest people we have ever met,” Taylor and Gladin said. “They are down to earth with everything they do, and stand with a strong Christian faith. In light of the tragic event, the senseless death of Mr. Tommy Bryson, we have decided to help in anyway we know how.”
The WHHS graduate involved in the alumni campaign said Bryson family members had been in contact with Taylor and Gladin to ask them to add a similar update and switch the fundraiser to the Community Foundation.


Friday afternoon that Go Fund Me site had not been updated. The site had raised $4,045, it said.
Two differences in the Go Fund Me campaign and the Community Foundation is that Go Fund Me takes a cut of the donations and the donations are not tax deductible, Benson said.
To donate to the Thomas A. Bryson Legacy Fund through the Community Foundation click here.