Illinois' Secretary of State is honoring the organ donation of a man from Normal who died early last month following a crash involving an alleged drunk driver. Michael Collins had signed to be an organ donor prior to his April 2nd death. During a ceremony at ISU, Jesse White presented the Collins family with a framed commemorative license plate bearing Michael's initials. Kelly Collins says her sons' gifts are helping more than 200 people.
"Through the gift of hope and Michael choosing to be an organ donor, we just recently learned that a New York woman's sight has been restored. Someone who was blind, but now can see. And to those of you who know, that should be a familiar story from John chapter nine. A gift of sight for her, and a gift of eternal life for Michael. And to that I say, "to God be the glory."
Jim Collins says he always thought of his son Michael as a quiet student, sitting in the back of the room waiting for class to end. But he says ISU students are telling him of a different classmate.
"He was the one who took a boring subject and smiled and had fun with it. And we just heard from many, many students that his smile helped the class be better and it's just something that I had never really thought of him being that kind of student before but he obviously had some impact here on campus that I wasn't aware of."
Collins says his family has been touched by the outpouring of support through social media and otherwise toward their son. A random acts of kindness "pay it forward" movement has emerged. Collins says photos of people wearing #MCSTRONG t-shirts have come from as far away as Africa.
ISU President Larry Dietz says Collins' tragic death will lead to stepped up campus-wide drunk-driving education and awareness efforts. Dietz applauded Michael Collins' decision to ride with a designated driver.
"I think we're gonna redouble our awareness efforts, and I think the message is becoming clear to the students that it's an issue that everybody needs to be dealing with."
Dietz presented the Collins family with Michael's diploma during ceremonies on campus. Michael Collins, who played baseball at Heartland Community College before transferring to ISU, was to graduate with a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology and Recreation. He was also an assistant baseball coach for his father at University High School.
(pictured, ISU President Larry Dietz presents Michael Collins' diploma to his family, mother Kelly, father Jim and brother Jimmy.)
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