$500 tipper honors brother’s dying wish in Charleston

Published: Jan. 14, 2014 at 12:25 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2014 at 5:50 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A Kentucky man's dying wish was fulfilled right here in Charleston as an unexpected waitress got a huge surprise Sunday.

Nelia Spencer, a server at Mex 1 Coastal Cantina in West Ashley got a rather large payday from customer Seth Collins.

Spencer said, "I've been in this industry for over 10 years and nobody thinks that something like this is going to happen."

Collins traveled to all 50 states and stopped in 94 restaurants passing out $500 tips to surprised servers.

"I drove everywhere except Alaska and Hawaii," said Collins.

Collins says there really isn't a method to how he chooses where to go.

"I don't pick the servers. I pick a restaurant or the people I'm with pick a restaurant and then I leave the server up to chance. Whatever table we get seated at, that's who it's going to be," said Collins.

Collins has been at it for a little more than a year and half now driving from state to state all in memory of his brother Aaron. His website AaronCollins.org is written on every bill he gives out.

Collins gave out his first tip July 10, 2012, just 3 days after Aaron passed away at the age of 30.

"His friend found him and his heart had stopped and he didn't any prior conditions so no one was expecting it," said Collins.

Aaron left instructions for his family in a will. He told them to buy a pizza and leave a $500 tip.

Collins said, "He was very generous and adventurous."

The family turned a onetime act of kindness into something much bigger.

"People's reaction was so overwhelming they sent me $47,000 in 3 days. So I've been giving that money away ever since then," said Collins.

Nelia Spencer's tip was the last one from the original $47,000.

"I think it's become more of a way to help create this legacy for him," said Collins.

"You will touch the hearts of many" was the message inside a fortune cookie Collins picked up in Los Angeles.

Spencer said, "My favorite quote has always been 'A smile is the same in every language' and if I can make one person smile a day think I've done a good deed."

Copyright 2014 WCSC. All rights reserved.