MINERAL WELLS (UKTN) – With the strength of steel and a gentle spirit of healing for Uvalde, a Mineral Wells family carved 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,” Collins Sr said. it was time to build a cross for Uvalde.”
Hundreds of Patriot Vision Foundation motorcyclists will carry the cross through the Texas Hill Country this weekend. It will overlook a mural on Main Street honoring the victims, their families and the town still devastated by the school shooting.
“Hopefully that will be put in place somewhere, that families, anyone who is hurt, who feels the loss can go somewhere and just remember a family member or friend who is gone” , said Collins Jr.
The teams have already dug a hole for the cross and are ready to place it and add cement.
Collins Sr. said the gift came not just from him, but from everyone who donated time, materials and money to the project, called “Brady’s Love Ride for Uvalde.”
There is a slot in the cross to lay prayer cards, letters or drawings low enough for children to reach.
There are 22 hearts of steel on the cross in total, including Brady’s heart.
Brady Collins died two years ago in a car accident at the age of 26.
“It’s a worse pain 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,” Collins Sr said.
Brady’s untimely death led his father to recover from addiction. He is now 29 months sober. Collins Sr. made a cross in Brady’s honor 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 painted white.
“This cross means forgiveness to me. I was in bad shape when my baby died. It’s proof of God’s forgiveness,” Collins Sr said.
Collins Sr. also built another cross, a few yards from Brady’s, for Glenda Dow, who was married to rancher Ocey Dow. She died of complications from the coronavirus last year.
“It’s a healing process for me and I hope it can do the same for the people of Uvalde.”