TROUP, Texas — When you lose someone you dearly love, it can be devastating.
But one East Texas School district is turning their grief into acts of kindness.
Longtime Troup ISD teacher Karen Agnew died of cancer more than a year ago but she left such a legacy, that her students have decided to carry it on.
The girls Varsity and JV basketball teams initiated a group called ‘Agnew’s Angels.’ They buy goods for women that are fighting breast cancer at Texas Oncology-Tyler, and personally deliver them to women at the facility where Agnew received treatment.
Agnew taught children at Troup for nearly two decades, but they said she was far more than a teacher.
Troup ISD basketball player Cori Minnix called Agnew ‘Mama G.’
“She was like my grandma,” Minnix said. “I have diabetes, so every time my blood sugar was low she always had snacks for me. She had a big box of fruit loops in her room, I would always go and eat and that was my favorite place to be.”
Jay Hampton also plays basketball for Troup and said Agnew made herself a part of their family before Hampton was born.
“Ms. Agnew helped name me with my mom,” Hampton said. “My mom really loved her and when I was born Ms. Agnew was there and she was holding me. She always called me baby, she would always give me big hugs.”
Troup basketball player Ty moon said when she first moved to the area, it was Agnew who made her feel like she had always belonged.
“She was always in the stands cheering us on,” Moon said. “If we did something bad, she was going to let us know. She was the loudest person all the time and we really loved having her.”
Laila kincade, who also plays on the team, said kids at the school trusted Agnew completely.
“I knew I could come to her for anything, I could talk to her about anything, when my sister passed she was always there for me. In class when I had a breakdown or something she was there to hug me, comfort me, make me feel like everything was going to be okay.”
Agnew’s daughter, Ashley Frye, said her mother pushed through the pain of the disease to attend nearly every sports game.
“She would say, ‘I have to go to this game because such-and-such’s momma works nights, or I have to be there, they want me there, they look for me,’” Frye said. “Even if nobody’s in your corner, Ms. Agnew’s always in your corner. The day of the funeral was a Tuesday, it was game day. I called both of the coaches and said, ‘You have to tell the kids they have to play they don’t have a choice. We have to get back up. That’s the way my mom was on her bad days, she still got up, and that night both the girls and the boys won both games.”
Head girls basketball coach David Minnix said Agnew went out of her way to take care of everyone at the school. Even now, he said he is still hearing stories about ways she cared for people, that no one knew about.
“It’s going to come to a point where a lot of the kids we have that start graduating aren’t going to know who Ms. Agnew is,” he said. “They’re not going to have had that impact from her, so we want to keep her memory alive and let these kids know who she was and what she stood for and why we’re doing the kind of community service to try to help other people like she would have done.”