“One big family:” Plano unites to celebrate student’s life

Anna Villano, Staff Writer

Former Rice Middle School student Nicole Wilson died on Sat., May 3 due to complications with Type 1 diabetes. After her sister Kelly posted a moving tweet on Twitter in order to reach out to Nicole’s favorite band, Nicole’s story has brought together not only Plano, but communities around the world.

As a birthday present, Nicole received tickets to see internationally-known boy band One Direction at their Dallas concert in August.  Nicole’s family attempted to reach out to the band after her death in hopes that they would dedicate her favorite song, “Story of My Life,”to her at the concert.

Nicole attended Camp Sweeney, a camp for diabetic children located in Gainesville. Here, children focus on living their lives to the fullest and forgetting their everyday struggles with diabetes. Plano West junior and fellow type 1 diabetic Mary Clare Bunker met Nicole at Camp Sweeney this past winter.

“Everyone at camp bonds instantly because we all share a common struggle and know what dealing with the disease feels like,” Bunker said. “Nicole was in my cabin last December and she was incredibly energetic and bubbly. You never saw her without a smile on her face.”

Almost immediately following Kelly’s Twitter post, the hashtag #SingForNicole started trending. Senior and fellow camp attendee Angela Hanson could not believe how little time it took for the post to go viral. Its popularity started within the city, even earning a tweet from the official Twitter page of the City of Plano, and eventually spread nationally. It took only six days for the cause to reach One Direction member Liam Payne .

“Liam actually posted the tweet during Nicole’s funeral,” Hanson said. “I could not believe we’d actually done it all in so little time.”

According to Hanson, the #SingForNicole movement has done much more than its original intention of getting One Direction’s attention – it has also resulted in unifying Plano and raising awareness of Type 1 diabetes.

“It has become more about coming together as one big family than anything else,” Hanson said. “Nicole’s passing has also educated others about the struggles we, type 1 diabetics, go through. What many don’t know is that more people die every year from diabetes than all other diseases combined. People are actually learning more about diabetes because of this cause, which is something we all greatly appreciate.”

Junior Samar Faiz is attending One Direction’s concert this summer. Based off of Payne’s tweet, she is eager to see what the band has in store for fans.

“I’m sure they will say some kind words about Nicole before dedicating ‘Story of My Life’ to her,” Faiz said. “It’s cool to see how far Plano was able to spread the word.”

Although the show is not for another three months, #SingForNicole has not displayed signs of fading any time soon. Several efforts have aided the cause to a great extent, including candle-light vigils celebrating Nicole’s life and a donation project that has raised more than $37,000 in scholarship money so far for children to attend Camp Sweeney.

“Instead of grieving for our loss, this has actually helped us celebrate the life Nicole lived,” Hanson said. “It is crazy how things blew up all at once. One of the things I’ve been thinking about is how the whole thing is going to keep up its momentum. It got really big really fast, but I don’t think it will ever die down.”