(NECN: Peter Howe, Dracut, Mass.) This is a town that’s stepped up to be “Collier Strong.”
Every day this month, Brothers Pizza and Brothers Sports Bar and Grill have been donating $1 per pizza sold to a memorial fund honoring Sean Collier, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer allegedly assassinated nearly one year ago by the Boston Marathon bombers.
Sunday, owners Peter and Sophia Tsianakas celebrated raising more than $4,000 so far and welcomed for a finale fundraiser and silent auction four of Sean Collier's five siblings, including Rob Rogers and Jenn Rogers, who are among 20 Team Collier Strong members running in this year’s marathon.
“It’s been a good way for myself to grieve and remember him and shares some stories about Sean, have some fun, and try to get through it,” said Rob, a first-time marathoner who jokes that he can’t remember when, before this year, “I last ran a mile – voluntarily.”
Nicole Lynch, Sean’s oldest sister, said, “I really feel that in the very short life that Sean had, he lived with absolutely no regrets, and to the fullest, and that's how we all need to live -- every single day.”
MIT Police Sgt. Richard Sullivan was Collier’s mentor on the force and has been a constant source of support to the family over the last year and an engine for Team Collier’s fundraising.
“To this day, we're still getting” gifts in tribute to Collier, Sullivan said. “We got a check Thursday for $10,000 from a pub crawl in Boston, and it's events like this, and events like that, that just mean so much to us.”
More fundraisers are coming April 9 at Lir Irish Pub & Restaurant in Boston and the Hard Rock near Quincy Market in Boston May 4. The money, like the Brothers Pizza contributions raised this month and Sunday, is being raised to sponsor a Collier endowment for a Middlesex County police academy candidate every year.
The way Sean Collier went through that academy – which is run by the Lowell Police – was unusual: Instead of being sponsored by a police department as a recruit whose tuition and expenses would be paid en route to a job on the force, Collier went on his own dime – shelling out some $7,000 while juggling academy training with a civilian Somerville Police job – and with no guarantee he’d be hired by any department once he graduated.
Typically, only one or two police academy cadets go through each class as “self-sponsored” candidates, as Collier did.
“Sean was just so dedicated to becoming a police officer that he wasn't going to wait for that, and so he put himself through the academy,” sister Jennifer Lemmerman said, and his dedication paid off when he won a position on the MIT Police force.
Sullivan said it’s a perfect tribute that the money now being raised in Collier’s name will help someone else with that same burning commitment to becoming a police officer, and the willingness to risk the chance they don’t immediately get a police job. “We are going to be able to put somebody through in Sean's name and carry Sean's legacy,” Sullivan said.
As sister Nicole Lynch puts it, “Someone will get to live out their dream because of this fund.”
It is the dream – to protect others, to serve others – for which Sean Collier lived and ultimately gave his life.
With videographer Sean G. Colahan