Sister’s memorial to brother is safety

Local News

MILLIKIN UNIVERSITY — After her brother died in a house fire nearly two decades ago, one student wants her campus to take fire prevention seriously.

Sophia Schwalbach says she never wants another student to go through what her family went through 17-years ago. That’s why this sophomore is using her voice to raise awareness.

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, more than 100 students have died in campus fires in the last 15-years.

“The number is just so powerful and how it really has impacted so many other families just besides my own.”

In 2000, Schwalbach lost her older brother, Nick, in a tragic fire at the Kappa Sigma Fraternity House. He was a Millikin student.

“Almost 20-years later, it’s something that still just really needs to be talked about and that’s my mission; to be able to start the conversation so that students can start thinking about these things and this can extend on to their lives past college.”

Sophia is now a sophomore who’s using her experience to educate others about fire safety.

“It obviously impacted my life really heavily and I never want any family or student to have to go through that again.”

In memory of her brother, Sophia launched the Nick Project.

“I started this project when I first came to Millikin. I realized how little the safety awareness we talked about.”

Last year, Sophia gave educational talks around campus. This year, she’s raising funds so she can give students a free fire extinguisher and ladder to have in their homes. With the help of Greek organizations, she’s raised more than $2,000.

“I just really want to make this an everlasting impact and drive that can happen here at Millikin.”

Sophia says getting people to understand the dangers of fire is something she takes very seriously. She has seen a huge outpouring of support from students and the community.

The Nick Drive is May 8. Her goal is to raise enough money to hand out 50 fire ladders and extinguishers. That will cost almost $3,000.

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