Shooting victim’s boyfriend and friends organize tournament in her honor
It was a random act of violence that sparked outrage throughout the community.
Just more than a year ago, Sara Hougom was shot to death in her La Crosse apartment.
For her boyfriend, Scott Hogan, there are little reminders of her everywhere.
"We would play with our kitty, Rascal. She got me a little cat. And now he's about a year old and I still have him. So he means a lot to me because it just brings back memories of me and her," said Hogan.
The last time her saw her, they spent the morning playing with Rascal.
"It was a good last memory," said Hogan.
That was just hours before 20-year-old Sara Hougom was shot to death in her apartment, the victim of a random, drug-fueled robbery gone wrong.
Now Hogan and his fraternity brothers are doing what they can to prevent the kind of violence that ended Hougom's life.
This Saturday, Chi Phi fraternity is putting on the first annual Sara Softball charity tournament to promote awareness of violence in La Crosse.
A halo surrounded by stars hovers above Sara’s name on the event’s logo.
"The halo on top is obviously for our angel, Sara,” said Adam Pannier, Chi Phi president and friend of Hougom. “It's a circle. It's unity, to show that we are one community.”
Pannier said with Hougom’s fun-loving, outgoing personality, it's an event she would have loved.
"She would be one of the biggest cheerleaders on the sideline if she could be around here,” said Pannier. “I know she's smiling up in heaven right now. So just knowing that puts on a smile on my face."
Smiles are still hard to come by for Hogan, but bittersweet reminders of the woman he loved bring him a sense of comfort.
After Hougom was killed, Hogan got a tattoo on the inside of his arm to commemorate her life.
"It says, 'Forever on my mind. Forever in my heart.' And it's just a little symbol to always remember that she's around and she's always with me. And I like the feeling that, with this, I feel like she's closer to me and always next to me," said Hogan.
The eight softball teams for the tournament have already been filled, but there are still plenty of ways to participate. There will be yard games, a home-run derby and concessions. There will also be information on how to find assistance if you're a victim of or witness to violence.
The tournament is going to be this Saturday starting at 10 a.m. at Reuter Field, which is behind the football stadium at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. For more information, visit the event's Facebook page.
Part of the funds raised through the tournament will go to the La Crosse Interfaith Justice & Peace Network, which hosted a community conversation about gun violence on Sunday night.
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