Tragedy tends to bring people closer together, and over the past few years, the Redbird family has been no stranger to loss. Each time, people are devastated, but those who knew the individuals who lost their lives tend to come out stronger and with a clearer purpose.
Last Wednesday, Michael Collins died as a result of a drunk driving accident. Most people in the area and around the state have heard the story, and those who knew him are obviously troubled by the loss. He was supposed to have his whole life ahead of him, but it was cut short by someone else’s poor decision.
Although this was an inexcusable decision that resulted in his death and the injury of three others, this Editorial Board would like to remind everyone what a profound impact this has had on the Bloomington-Normal area. There has been an outpouring of love and support for all the families who were affected, directly or indirectly, and a Facebook event called “Pay it Forward for Michael Collins” began, encouraging all those attending to perform acts of kindness throughout the entire month of April.
Some of the acts of kindness have been monetary, offering enormous tips at restaurants when servers in college towns often receive little to none. Others have been acts of time, posting their phone numbers and offering to be a designated driver at any time of night for someone who needs it. This sort of kindness would not have been present without the tragedy that was Collins’ death.
Additionally, Collins was able to save and improve 200 lives as an organ donor. This simple decision has encouraged so many others to also sign up, and this Editorial Board is certain that there are more people who have done so than have made it known. Other friends have commented on the Facebook event acknowledging their decisions to donate blood as soon as they can, which can also help save lives.
The hashtag #MCstrong has been floating around on these events, and T-shirts have even been made to support the cause. People around the community have written notes after paying lavish tips stating that they only want the message of not drinking and driving to be passed on. Survivors of the crash have also gone to social media to ask that simple request and have grown closer as a result of the incident.
Although this is a tough time for everyone involved, especially as graduation comes closer and Collins was expected to attend commencement, there are so many reasons for people to continue looking on the bright side of things.
This Editorial Board encourages the entire Redbird community to keep paying it forward. Even if you feel like you can’t afford to pay for the meal of the person who is behind you in line, think of other creative options. You can also offer to be a designated driver this month, if you have access to a car. You can spread the word about the importance of not drinking and driving. You can also sign up to be an organ or blood donor. You can even join Students Against Drunk Driving. Do something that helps others and motivates you, because without the latter, it won’t mean as much.
Last week, the official Illinois State University Instagram and Vine accounts encouraged students to make videos saying why they like attending this school, with the hashtag #redbirdproud. We’ve never been more proud to be a Redbird.