On Friday night on his birthday, his family released biodegradable lanterns in his honor. They also held a memorial at his living tree with blue lights, the color of his alma mater, Parry McCluer High School. Chad was a decorated football star in high school—wearing the number 33.
That night, his mother, Ellen Austin read a poem she wrote for her late son.
“We remember the good times at Smith Mountain Lake. Many fish you caught, cleaned and beer-battered bake. You were smart, handsome, our love nature child,” said Ellen.
Chad’s family said it’s a special birthday with the day falling on the night of his alma mater’s homecoming game.