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Last updated: Fri. Aug. 01, 2014 - 11:15 am EDT

Scholarship fundraiser keeps memories alive

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Alina BigJohny never got to live her dream of teaching children.

Just a month before her death from the stage collapse during the 2011 Indiana State Fair, BigJohny was hired to teach seventh-graders at a Muncie school when classes resumed that fall.

“She always loved working with kids, and she was al­­ways tutoring,” her sister Christy Col­lins said.

Although BigJohny's ambitions were cut tragically short, her family wants to turn their tragedy into a chance for others to achieve what she was poised to do: teach.

To do that, the family is putting on a silent auction from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Manchester Univer­sity College of Pharmacy on Dupont Road near Parkview Regional Med­ical Center to raise money for a memorial scholarship in BigJohny's name.

The scholarship, established two years after her death, benefits students pursuing an English or teaching degree at Manchester University, where BigJohny graduated.

“Since the accident happened, we've wanted to do something every year,” Collins said, adding that the first year was a small event just for family.

The university hosted a dance-a-thon last year to raise money for the scholarship, but weather hampered the event.

The family is aiming big this year.

Items up for auction include donations from the Mad Ants, Komets, TinCaps, a soccer ball signed by World Cup star DaMarcus Beasley and a football signed by the Seattle Seahawks.

Gift certificates from local businesses and restaurants and other items round out the 70-plus items up for bid.

A raffle and giveaways are also planned.

“The outcome and support from the community has been amazing,” Collins said.

The event is timed to coincide as closely as possible with BigJohny's birthday, Aug. 4, just nine days before she died.

“It's such a hard day as it is, so why not do something in honor of her? But it's also a way to help others,” Collins said.

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