Man’s dying wish for $500 tip inspires charity
By Dylan Lovan, Associated Press
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — As Seth Collins finished his penne pasta at a Lexington restaurant, he called over the waitress to fulfill his brother’s dying wish.
He explained to her that his 30-year-old brother Aaron recently passed away, but that he’d left instructions in his will to leave a $500 tip for a server.
Then Seth Collins handed the waitress a stack of $20 bills.
The waitress, Chelsea Powell, took the money reluctantly and then smiled and said: “Are you kidding me?” She laughed nervously and had to cover her mouth from the excitement before giving Collins a hug.
The big tip at Bella Notte restaurant was the second $500 gratuity Seth Collins has left since Aaron Collins died on July 7. And the tips will keep coming, thanks to more than $47,000 in donations from people inspired by Aaron Collins’ dying act of charity.
The family didn’t even know he’d written a will when they found the document on his computer.
It had instructions on what to do with his motorcycle, his artwork and to “leave an awesome tip (and I don’t mean 25%. I mean $500 on a … pizza).”
“It was the last thing in his will, that we do this, and it kind of took me by surprise to see that, and for that reason it kind of left a mark on me,” Seth Collins said shortly after leaving giving the $500 tip to Powell earlier this month.
Aaron Collins’ death was unexpected. His brother said the family is still awaiting a final determination on the cause, but a preliminary coroner’s report said strangulation contributed to the death.
Collins set up a website after his brother’s death to collect money for the big tip.
He raised enough from family and friends for the first tip, and then Collins posted a video of the giveaway on YouTube. The video showing Collins telling a waitress at an Italian restaurant his brother’s story and handing over the cash, instantly went viral. Since it was posted in mid-July, 2 million people have watched.
Donors from around the world, many anonymous, have flooded the site.
“When I was daydreaming I thought (if we could collect) $1,500, we’ll do it three times, that would just be unbelievable to do it three times, never thought I’d get to,” Collins said. And then after he posted the first video, “suddenly I’m thinking, ‘Oh we’re going to get to do it 20 times, 40 times.'”
Powell, who received the second big tip from Collins, works three jobs and is studying at the University of Kentucky to be a teacher.
The money will help the 21-year-old student with her bills, she said.
“I haven’t even thought about it yet, I just know I’m behind on a lot of stuff,” Powell said.
Seth Collins said the family has raised nearly enough money to do once-a-week tips for two years. So far he has given three big tips, and said he plans to travel outside Lexington for the next dinner. He has been thinking of other possibilities, like leaving big tips for coffee or pizza delivery.
Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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