Teen dies suddenly from flu; memorialized with fishing tournament

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A teen who died from the flu is being remembered this weekend with an event she would have loved to attend - a fishing tournament. 

Many loved 15-year-old Brandy Szanyi dearly. But even those who never met her will celebrate her life this Saturday at a fishing tournament called "Fishing for Brandy."

Brandy was an outstanding athlete at Teneroc High School in Lakeland, and an all-around free spirit.

"She was our crazy child. She loved life," Brandy's mom, Jennifer Szanyi said. "She wasn't afraid of anything. She could dress up pretty for the prom, and turn around and wrestle a hog the next day."

In March, Brandy got the flu. Everyone thought, because she was a strong kid, she would bounce right back. But she didn't.

"You always doubt yourself. Could I have done something differently?" her mom asked. "Was there something we could have caught a little quicker?"

After doctors determined she had the flu, Brandy's health deteriorated quickly.

"We were at St. Joe's [Hospital]. Her heart stopped twice. That's when they realized the flu had attacked her heart and her lungs," Szanyi said.

Brandy went through several surgeries, but her condition kept getting worse. Her parents felt helpless.

"Just 100 percent scared," commented her dad, B.J. Szanyi, who is also head softball coach at Teneroc.

After six weeks on life support, Brandy died.

On Thursday night, Teneroc retired her No. 5 softball jersey. This weekend, she will be remembered by the dozens of people who signed up to fish at the tournament in her name. There will also be music, games, bounce houses and other activities.

"We want them to think of Brandy the way she was when she was still here," said "Shorty" Carter, one of the organizers.

For more information, call Carter at 863-608-8114.