“Michael was everything that we would want or expect an athlete to be in his two years at Heartland. Michael had the unique ability to put a smile on everyone’s face. No one cared more for his teammates and wanted to win more than ‘MC’ did,” said Nate Metzger , Heartland Community College director of athletics and head baseball coach.
Heartland Alum Michael Collins was killed by an alleged drunk driver following and March 29th crash while he and his friends were on their way home from downtown Bloomington. Three other passengers were also seriously injured. When Collins succumbed to his injuries April 2, he saved 203 lives because he was an organ and tissue donor. However, those recipients were not the only ones who were impacted by Collins.
Heartland Community College President, Jon Astroth, said, “I hope his family can find some solace in knowing that Michael was so highly regarded by those who knew him. From what I have learned, he exemplified the type of student-athlete that makes us all so proud of Heartland athletics: an excellent student; a superior teammate; and a cherished friend.”
Since the tragic death of Heartland Alum and Illinois State University senior Michael Collins, a “Pay It Forward” Facebook event was created, igniting random acts of kindness throughout the Bloomington-Normal community, nation, and even the world. The site has posted from people as far away as Guam.
(Michael Collins with mom Kelli)
Hailey Lanier, the creator of the “Pay It Forward for Michael Collins” Facebook page, said, “In a time of loss everybody kind of wants to help and this is actually something that people can do and feel like they are making a positive difference in the community.” However, she told WJBC Radio she never expected it to have such an impact. Lanier said, “I thought it would be a way for close friends and family to remember him and to help with the grieving process and it's become so much more than I ever imagined."
More than 17,000 people have participated in the Pay It Forward event since the Facebook page was created. Some people have paid it forward by leaving a generous tip at a restaurant and writing “#MCstrong” on the receipt. Some have selflessly given out gift cards to strangers while others have signed up to become an organ donor, like Collins.
Heartland Community College students are on a mission to increase organ donation and recently Sidney Weth and Kelsey Troyer (pictured right) set up a table in front of the campus library to register people to become organ donors and give the gift of life in honor of Collins. Their efforts will
continue through the end of April which is Organ Donor Awareness month.
On April 5, ISU Club Baseball held a benefit for the Collins family at a game against Purdue University held at O’Neil Park in Bloomington. The goal of the benefit was to recognize Michael's legacy, pay tribute, and raise funds to help the Collins family with medical expenses. Purdue’s Club Baseball team tweeted during the game, “Touching tribute here by the Redbirds, honoring fallen friend Michael Collins. #MCStrong #19.”
Local businesses donated gift cards and prizes that were raffled off at the game. Concessions were sold and donations were accepted at the gate. Nearly 200 people attended the event and almost $1,500 was raised from the raffle, donations and concession sales. All funds were donated to the Collins family.
Fellow ISU students, also eager to help the Collins family, launched an online fundraising campaign in his name to raise money for medical bills and miscellaneous costs. The initial goal for donations was $10,000. Since then, the fundraiser raised has reached more than $48,000, four times the original goal. The money left over from Collins medical bills will be donated to various charities.