Hundreds of Penn State students and family friends gathered to honor Timothy Piazza’s life in front of Old Main Sunday night.
Piazza tragically passed away after falling down the basement steps of Beta Theta Pi’s fraternity house. Members of the fraternity reportedly waited 12 hours before contacting emergency services. State College Police have stated alcohol and hazing may have played a role in his death.
Following introductions and a brief moment of silence, Paige Hammond, who interviewed Piazza for THON OPP, took the microphone to describe her interaction with him. When she asked Piazza during his interview what he could bring to a committee, without hesitation he replied he would be the glue that would keep it together.
“He amazed me, how he would always be smiling and noticed when others were having a bad day,” Hammond said. “He made a point to make everybody’s day a little brighter and it’s something that we all appreciated.”
As Hammond stepped away from the microphone, Charlie Puth’s “See You Again” played.
Bennet, Piazza’s friend and roommate, was next to take the microphone. Both of them joined the special interest THON organization AYUDA at the same time. For the last year and a half, they embarked on their THON journey together. Piazza and Bennet grew so close as friends that people even started referring to the two of them as “Tim and Bennet.”
“This was the start of me experiencing my best friend’s passion to help people, desire to make a difference, and unique ability to make a positive impact on everyone he met,” he said.
Looking back on THON 2016, Bennet remembered how Piazza kept him going.
“During the final four when I was starting to fall asleep while standing up in the stands, Tim was there with the squirt gun in my ear shooting water into it whenever my eyes closed,” Bennet said. “This was just Tim – always there when you needed him the most.”
There’s a lot that they planned on doing together that Bennet will continue to do in his friend’s honor. On Monday, Bennet plans to attend “No Hair Don’t Care,” a THON event where students shave their heads in solidarity with children fighting cancer all over the world.
Piazza’s dedication to THON still lives on. His family asks that donations to THON be made through AYUDA in memory of him. In the two days after this request being published in Piazza’s obituary, 129 donations totaling more than $15,000 were made.
“Be yourself, be weird, be goofy, be happy, be you. Smile, tell your friends you love them and be a better friend to people than they deserve. Make a difference in people’s lives as Tim did in yours,” Bennet said.
“Be an incredible brother, a son your parents have everything to be proud of, a boyfriend that gives the best example of how to love, and a friend that no one deserves. I love you Tim. We all love you.”
Tim’s older brother Mike and the rest of the Piazza family took the microphone next. Mike described his brother as a goofball with a kind heart. “His sole mission in life was to make other people laugh,” he said. Mike noted how his brother gave back to the community through high school and college. After Tim died, his kidneys were donated to save a man in his 40s. “He gave them a new lease on life,” Mike said. “I’m so incredibly proud of him for that.”
Old Main’s bells rung as Piazza’s mother read a passage about what it means to raise a child. Piazza’s father joked that his son probably rang the bells knowing his mother had something to say.
“My son certainly made an impact on the world. I learned a lot of things about him. I always knew he was an amazing kid, an amazing son, an amazing person,” Piazza’s father said. “Let’s be honest, this didn’t have to happen.”
He asked everyone to be smart, be aware, be safe, and to help someone if you can.
The a cappella group Pennharmonics concluded the vigil with “Hallelujah.”