The Illinois State Athletics Department revealed Redbird Remembrance, a memorial near the north entrance of Redbird Arena to remember the seven men who lost their lives in the April 7, 2015, plane crash outside of Bloomington-Normal.
At the center of the memorial are seven columns placed in a fountain, symbolizing the loss and a commitment to remember seven friends and co-workers taken too soon. A plaque welcomes visitors into the memorial, while the seven names are etched into the back wall. With built-in seating and lights, and located in the heart of Redbird Athletics, guests will be able to visit the memorial at any time of day.
“We felt that we had a duty to honor these men, support their families and strengthen the Redbird bond,” Director of Athletics Larry Lyons said. “The permanency of the memorial is to honor their legacy with dignity and respect, and we believe the design is comforting and peaceful. We picked this location so that it is accessible to the families, the campus and the community to reflect and remember.”
A permanent display was installed outside the ISU Athletics Administration offices on the concourse of Redbird Arena during the 2015-16 season. The display features a picture and short biography of each of the men who perished on April 7, 2015, as well as a picture and description of the permanent memorial located outside adjacent to the North entrance of Redbird Arena. It is also adorned with the Redbird Remembrance logo and a brief statement about the tragic event.
ISU students Philip Tschammer, Andrew Wiercinski and Alexandra Dunfee, at the suggestion of their professor, Dr. Chris Merrill, constructed the 23-inch solid oak emblem featuring the uniform patch design that honors the seven men who lost their lives in a plane crash on April 7, 2015. Many working hours were spent in the technology labs at night, after classes had cleared out and other students were home for the day. The emblem was presented to ISU Athletics on Jan. 14, 2016, and hangs in the Legends Room at Redbird Arena.
In addition to the memorial, Redbird student-athletes and coaches wore a patch on game days during the 2015-16 season in memory of the seven men. Athletics staff members wore lapel pins that resemble the patch.
“Our student-athletes understand the significance of the patch and what it symbolizes,” Lyons added. “We asked them to honor the seven with their competitive spirit throughout the year.”
A replica of the Battle Bird will also be placed at the entrance in the Hancock Stadium Club and Legends Room/Redbird Room donor areas in Redbird Arena on home football and men’s basketball game days. At the base of the Battle Bird is a plaque with the seven names, as another way to memorialize the friends and community members who were lost that day. Weisbecker Scholarship Fund donors will be able to touch the Battle Bird upon entrance to the Hancock Stadium Club and Legends Room/Redbird Room, just like Redbird student-athletes do before any home competition.