Family of State Fair stage collapse victim starts memorial scholarship

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Indiana State Fair started Friday and has brought back paid concerts after it was suspended following a fatal stage collapse in 2011. Seven people died from the accident, including Alina BigJohny, of Fort Wanye. Her family will be hosting a silent auction Saturday to raise money for a memorial scholarship in her honor.

BigJohny was a graduate of Manchester University. She was going to be teaching seventh grade at a school in Muncie in 2011. She died during the stage collapse just before a Sugarland concert at the Indiana State Fair in August of that year. Christy Collins, BigJohny’s sister, said August is a difficult month for the family.

“Her birthday is August 4th, so that is on Monday,” said Collins. “And then the accident happened on the 13th, so August is always a rough month for us.”

Collins said the family has started a scholarship fund at Alina’s alma mater called the Alina BigJohny Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded to an English or education major at Manchester.

The scholarship fund was started last year when a couple of Alina’s friends started a dance marathon on the Manchester campus. They were able to raise enough money to award a $1500 scholarship this past May to a student majoring in education.

“Even though as tragic as the accident was, there is good coming out of it,” Collins said.

Collins and the family will continue raising money for the scholarship fund by hosting a silent auction on this weekend. The event will be this Saturday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Manchester University School of Pharmacy at 10627 Diebold Drive, Fort Wayne.

Items such as autographed footballs from players like Pat McAfee and the entire Seahawks team. They will also auction off gift cards, Miranda Lambert concert tickets, autographed soccer balls of DaMarcus Beasley and other items.

“For us to be able to have an auction and people actually support us and donate, I know it means the world to Alina and it means a lot to our family,” said Collins.

If you’re not able to make it to the silent auction, but would still like to donate, you can call Manchester University at (260) 982-5218. The university can take credit or debit. You can send checks to Manchester University , Office of Advancement, 604 East College Avenue, North Manchester, Ind. 46962. Make it to the attention of Alina BigJohny Scholarship.

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