A Dying Man's Last Wish: Tipping $500 on Meals Around The Country
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) What would you do with a last request?
For Aaron Collins, the answer was easy: make someone's day. He wanted his last words to touch people in a simple, genuine way.
"Go to dinner," he wrote in his will, "and leave a waiter or waitress an awesome tip. I'm not talking about 25%, I'm talking about leaving $500 on a pizza." It's how he wanted to be remembered, as a guy who did something nice for a stranger.
Collins died unexpectedly in July, 2012 at age 30. When his family found the will, they decided to honor his last request just as requested, by going out for pizza and leaving $500 for one lucky waitress. No one expected what happened next.
"We did it thinking that would be the only one," said Seth Collins, Aaron's brother. "And I posted a video mainly for friends and family, but that video went viral and people Pay Pal'd me $47,000."
Something in that gesture struck a universal chord. Seth's video of giving out his brother's last wish became an Internet sensation, and donations began pouring in from complete strangers who wanted to help. In the first few weeks he received nearly $50,000 to help keep the gifts alive. Today, Seth travels around the country to fulfill his brother's last request in all 50 states.
As of January 20, with a tip in Miami, Fla., he finished his mission.
"I set on the road full time on June 18," Seth said, "so it's [been] just over seven months. At this point I've done everything I set out to do except go home, so it's the very end of the road trip. Since June 18th I've left 47 $500 tips, and at this point I've left them in all 50 states plus D.C."
Seth decided to take his brother's request on the road once he realized just how many people wanted to support his brother. At first, his family and he traveled near their home in Kentucky to give away the money but eventually, Seth said, he wanted to reach as many people as he could.
"Most of [the tips] had been in and around Lexington," Seth said, "and I think it had lost some of the appeal, because it was basically the same people hearing about it over and over again... I felt like the world had supported us and donated money to this cause and I didn't want to funnel it all back to people in my area."
"The real joy of this," Seth added, "is touching someone who's maybe never heard about it, never heard about my brother, and has no expectation that it's going to happen again."