MINERAL WELLS (CBSDFW.COM) – With the strength of steel, and soft spirit of healing for Uvalde, a family from Mineral Wells has etched the names of the 19 children and two teachers killed in the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary School into hearts on a cross.
Michael Collins and his son Michael Collins Jr. welded the 14-foot-tall steel cross at Indian Creek Ranch.
“When you build something out of steel, it lasts a long time,” said Collins Sr. “I was sitting in my chair, and it’s like someone threw a rock and it hit me in the head that it’s time to build a cross for Uvalde.”
Hundreds of motorcyclists from the Patriot Vision Foundation will transport the cross to the Texas Hill Country this weekend. It will overlook a mural on Main Street in honor of the victims, their families and city still devastated by the school shooting.
“My hope for this is that it gets put up somewhere, that the families, everybody that’s hurt, feeling the loss can go somewhere and just remember their family member or friends that are gone,” said Collins Jr.
Crews have already dug a hole for the cross and are on-hand, ready to place it and add cement.
Collins Sr. said the gift is not just from him but all the people that donated time, materials, and money to the project, called “Brady’s Love Ride for Uvalde.”
There is a slot in the cross for dropping prayer cards, letters or drawings that’s low enough for children to reach.
There’s 22 steel hearts on the cross in total, including Brady’s heart.
Brady Collins died in a car crash two years ago at the age of 26.
“It’s a pain worse than you can ever imagine. You can smash your fingers with a hammer, shut your hand in the car door… every time a girl broke your heart. You multiply that by a million and you still don’t feel what it’s like to lose a child. I know that pain,” said Collins Sr.
Brady’s untimely death led to his father’s recovery from addiction. He’s now 29 months clean. Collins Sr. made a cross in honor of Brady and placed it at the water’s edge of his favorite lake on the ranch. Brady’s ashes are in the base of the cross, recently repainted in white.
“That cross means forgiveness for me. I was in bad shape when my baby lost his life. This is God’s proof of forgiveness,” said Collins Sr.
Collins Sr. also built another cross, which is a few feet away from Brady’s for Glenda Dow, who was married to ranch owner Ocey Dow. She died from complications of the coronavirus last year.
“It’s a healing process for me and I hope it can do the same for the people of Uvalde.”