DECATUR, Ill. – When Millikin alum Sophia Schwalbach returns to campus each year, it is with mixed emotions. Sofia, a 2019 Communications graduate, returns yearly to the University Commons to promote and participate in The Nick Project events, the fire prevention initiative she started in 2015 to honor her brother Nick Schwalbach.
Nick tragically lost his life in a fraternity house fire on Millikin's campus in June 2000. When Schwalback became a Millikin student herself, she wanted to honor Nick’s memory and keep students safe on campus at the same time.
“It is bittersweet to be back on campus, but it is a good reason to be back because I’m really happy that funds are going towards keeping this event alive,” Sophia said. “It is a great way to get people thinking about fire safety and brings that conversation back up, which is the most important thing at the end of the day. It’s a great way for people to stop by, get their free tools and learn a little bit more.”
During Monday’s event, students could receive a complementary carbon dioxide detector, fire ladder and fire extinguisher to take home. There were also a fire extinguisher demonstration and a learning session on fire safety information led by Dale Simpson, from the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal.
The Nick Project is a fund managed by the Office of Campus Life to provide fire safety tools to students as part of an ongoing initiative. To support the project, please visit the Endowed Scholarships and Funds page.
“It’s great to come back every year and be able to help out. It is a testament to how well Campus Life has taken over this event. (Director of Campus Life Residential Communities Nicole DeLiberis) and her team have done a stellar job this year of making it pretty seamless,” Sophia said. “The Nick Project is always taking donations and you can donate through the Alumni office. Every dollar helps and it adds more years to this annual event.”