A group of students is planning a memorial near Faubus Fountain Lake for the late Colby McDaniel.
McDaniel was a freshman when she passed away unexpectedly on December 21, 2014. She was found unresponsive in her home, and her cause of death was determined to be cardiac arrest. Students and faculty remembered her at a Chapel memorial in January.
Students’ Association and several of McDaniel’s friends are working to fund the memorial site on GoFundMe. They hope to raise $1,000 for the memorial and welcome anyone to donate.
Stephen Yang and Kayla Gilbert, were friends of McDaniel.
Yang, a sophomore English pre-law major from Thailand, met McDaniel in their freshman Cornerstone class and said she offered him rides to different activities. Yang was spending winter break in Connecticut when he heard of McDaniel’s death on Facebook.
“I never thought it would occur to one of my friends,” Yang said.
Around March, Yang said he felt a desire to make a physical memorial for McDaniel on campus. He told his dad, who suggested he email the university’s president, Dr. Phil Schubert.
Schubert supported the idea and put Yang in contact with Allison Garret, the executive vice president. Yang also came in contact with McDaniel’s friend Kayla Gilbert, and McDaniel’s older sister Taylor.
Yang said the vision for the memorial is a bench near Faubus Fountain Lake. It will feature a plaque with McDaniel’s name and tree with purple leaves to represent her favorite color.
“People will sit at the bench and enjoy the view,” Yang said.
Yang said wants the project to be completed before McDaniel’s sister graduates from ACU in May. He said the memorial would be beneficial even to students who didn’t know McDaniel.
“It changes how we perceive college,” Yang said. “We feel invincible, but time is so precious.”
Gilbert, a sophomore elementary education major from Fort Worth, said McDaniel was majoring in music therapy before switching over to phycology.
“She was into musicals, theatre and singing,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert said she wants other students to honor McDaniel’s legacy and be impacted as she was.
“It taught me to cherish my friends,” Gilbert said. “Now I hug them all the time.”
SA’s GoFundMe page said the memorial site will include a plaque that will read, “Colby McDaniel was a beloved friend and fellow Wildcat. Her dream was to work as a psychologist to aid others in reaching their full potential in any way that she could. She had a contagious sense of humor that lit up a room, and her calm presence impacted those who drew near her. Colby’s memory will live forever in our hearts, and we continue to lift up her family in prayer.”
Visit www.gofundme.com/colbymemorial to donate.