Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Chris Murzin Foundation raises money, awareness through pickleball

Kevin Kim
Caroline Murzin, founder of the Chris Murzin Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps solve cold cases, at her fundraiser pickleball tournament on April 5, 2024.

Students and families filled the courts of Austin Pickle Ranch with a heavy air of competition. The sunny spring day invited spectators to watch players swing pickleball paddles in support of a noble cause.   

Student Caroline Murzin co-founded the Chris Murzin Foundation in August 2023 after her dad, whom the foundation is named for, was killed in a road rage incident in 2021. On Friday, the foundation, which raises money for research and technology that investigates unsolved homicides, hosted a pickleball tournament for the cause. 

“As someone who’s still in college, this topic is not something that people are familiar with… So, I (thought), ‘What is an activity that everyone at the moment really likes?’” said Caroline Murzin, a Plan II and corporate communications junior. “Pickleball is all the rave right now, all ages know how to play.”

Christina Murzin, Caroline Murzin’s mother and foundation co-founder, began investigating her husband’s case on her own. The suspect was never found, urging Christina and Caroline to find justice and raise awareness. Caroline said Chris, her dad, was a huge advocate for their local community and she wanted something good to come out of the situation.

“I felt better taking action versus just sitting back,” said Christina, President and CEO of the Murzin Foundation. “We decided to create the foundation (to) hopefully help other cases and families know that everything has been done possible to try to bring justice to their loved ones’ case.”

Caroline said the IRS estimated it would take 12 to 18 months for the foundation to receive nonprofit approval, but they received it after just one month. The Murzins began planning events to raise money right away. However, not just anyone can volunteer for this cause due to security clearances and required certifications. So, the Murzin women brainstormed activities that would get students involved while raising money.  

After settling on a pickleball tournament, Caroline Murzin reached out to Austin Pickle Ranch, a rooftop pickleball facility, when it first opened in the fall. Tim Klitch, one of the founders of Austin Pickle Ranch had a similar story — a family member was killed and the suspect remains unknown. 

“There are so many people affected by homicides and you don’t necessarily realize it until you’re put in the situation,” Caroline said. “It was super interesting to connect with (Klitch).”    

Can-Tini, a canned espresso martini company, paid for the venue and served as the event’s main sponsor. Barry’s, Tito’s and other companies donated prizes for winning teams. With a few years of experience, biomedical engineering junior Taylor Hoffman and his teammate, Brandon Bowlby, won the entire tournament. 

“I love to play pickleball. I play whenever I can and I think doing tournaments is really fun,” Hoffman said. “Supporting The Chris Murzin Foundation was also great and the entry fee was very affordable for someone in college.” 

Spectator tickets were $15 and players’ tickets were $50 per doubles team. The foundation raised $1,985. Christina said the raised money will go toward allowing law enforcement to access AI technology and data used to solve cases.  

“I am very hopeful that we’ll be able to do some good and help families,” Christina Murzin said. “These are the hard cases and I’m hoping that we will be able to solve some, but knowing that everything that’s possible to try to solve the case has been done does give a little bit of closure.”

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