Christopher Thomas, who died of respiratory failure last spring, was one of the most impressive young men I’ve met in a long, long time. He was president of the College Republicans at the University of South Alabama (USA), vice president of Jaguar Productions (which produced lots of on-campus entertainment), treasurer for the Debate Society and a leader in his fraternity. He also volunteered a very large number of hours for my campaign for Congress in a special-election in 2013, and helped recruit about a dozen other volunteers for me from the college. (He also volunteered in the campaign of now-Mayor Sandy Stimpson, and later helped my friend Bradley Byrne during Byrne’s successful congressional runoff campaign.)
It is hard even to begin to describe what a positive, upbeat presence Christopher was. He had an energy and enthusiasm that was absolutely infectious, even inspirational. Every time I saw him, he had a big smile on his face. He was smart as a whip, polite, and quite obviously a leader.
I saw him for the last time just three weeks before he died, at a weekend-long seminar for young conservative activists put on by the great organization, Leadership Institute. It was clear that at least a few of the other students there had been recruited for the seminar by Christopher. He clearly commanded a very fond respect from everybody there.
The very night he died, as I understand it, he was the only student invited to attend (and I think speak at) a meeting of the board of directors of USA. But later that night he took ill. Two friends noticed he was breathing laboriously as he slept, and then he stopped breathing. They tried to revive him, but couldn’t.
Many hundreds attended a memorial event in his honor. The young people who spoke were very impressive, dignified — and their testimonials to Christopher were extremely moving.
One of his friends, the lovely Khaela Huey, has spearheaded an effort to create a scholarship at USA in Christopher’s name. (Please see this story, here.) The minimum amount necessary to create the scholarship is $10,000. The last I heard (about a week ago), they were significantly above $5,000, but significantly below $10,000. Among those who have donated is the campaign of Congressman Byrne. It’s a great cause, and the university is fully participatory in helping Khaela raise the money and manage the scholarship. As the story linked above notes, “To donate in memory of Thomas, visit the “Make a Gift” section of USA’s websiteand simply add that the donation is in his name.Those who need help or prefer not to donate via website can contact Angela Dunn, associate director of planned giving at (251) 460-7906 or email her at [email protected]” Or, just mail a check. All checks should be made payable to The University of South Alabama and must indicate that it is restricted to the Christopher Thomas Student Leadership Scholarship.
300 Alumni Circle