Pequod's Pizza waitress gets $500 tip as part of man's dying wish

July 12, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The moment still has Vanessa Goldschmidt, a server at Pequod's in Lincoln Park, on cloud nine.

"That's amazing. Thank you so much," said Goldschmidt. "Still a shock for sure that someone would just do that."

Seth Collins had just finished a meal with friends at Pequod's Pizza, and after paying the $45 tab, it was time to present the tip.

"This is for you. It's $500," said Collins.

"I'm like shaking right now. Are you serious?" said Goldschmidt. "My knees literally just got weak. And I started shaking. And I was just trying to fight back tears."

For Collins, this act of gratitude is born from grief. A year ago, his brother Aaron died at the age of 30, suddenly and mysteriously.

"We don't really know how he passed. His friend found him, and at that point his heart had stopped," said Collins.

Aaron once worked in a restaurant, his brother says, and in his will was a request.

"The last thing in it, he asked that we go out to dinner and leave an awesome tip. And he said, 'I'm not talking about 25 percent. I mean $500 on a pizza,'" said Collins.

So using money donated after his brother's death, Collins presented a server in their home town of Lexington, Kentucky with a $500 tip, and videotaped it all.

The YouTube clip went viral, leading to more donations and more tips. In the past year, Collins has tipped 56 servers in 18 states. His goal is to travel to every state in the country, all in the name of his brother.

"He would have been really blown away that so many people were touched and connected with this idea that he had," said Collins.

Collins has set up a website to post his videos and accept donations at

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