Americans are incredibly generous individuals. Last week, when tragedy tore two young lovers apart—anonymous donors across the nation reached out, proving that individual goodness trumps social welfare.
24-year-old Indianapolis resident Nathan Trapuzzano stepped out the door last Monday, April 1 for his traditional morning walk on the west side. Nathan had high hopes for his life. He had recently moved to Indianapolis and was enjoying his career as a computer programmer. He was a year into his marriage to Jennifer—the love of his life—a stunning strawberry blonde with a gorgeous smile.
Nathan and Jennifer were a match made in heaven—from the moment he dropped down on one knee and proposed in front of their Catholic church, to the memorable hot summer days they shared volunteering or watching baseball games together. Both Nathan and Jennifer were looking forward to the birth of their first child. They had already selected the baby’s name: Cecelia. Life was sweet. The future was bright.
Then, everything went dark.
Gunshots pierced the brisk spring air around 6:00 a.m., ending Nathan’s young life. For no reason, a gunman ran up behind Nathan and forced him into an alleyway. As Nathan resisted and tried to break free, his attacker shot him in the abdomen. A surveillance video from a nearby tire shop reveals that there was another man involved, apparently playing the role of keeping watch. Both men fled the scene, leaving few clues as to their identity or motivation. A passerby called 911 and Nathan was rushed to the hospital. At 7:40 a.m., Nathan drew his last breath.
Jennifer’s life was changed forever. She lost her husband and her unborn baby girl lost her father. Only God knows why this happened, and Jennifer is looking to Him for strength and healing. Jennifer’s family released a statement saying:
“Nathan Trapuzzano was the most kind-hearted person you would ever know. He never had an unkind thought in his head. He was so in love with his wife Jennifer, and unborn baby daughter, Cecelia. He was so excited about being a new Daddy. …Nate would not want us to become angry, but rather focus on the good and what is yet to come.”
Friends set up an online donation site to help Jennifer pay for funeral expenses and establish a fund for her newborn. They set a modest goal of $25,000. Within 24 hours, they had exceeded their goal by fourfold—raising $100,000. Donations came in from all over the country—most donors had never heard of Jennifer before, but they were touched by the story. Benevolent Americans donated whatever they could afford, in amounts as small as $5.00 and $25.00. Many donors chose to remain anonymous and refused personal recognition. Many wrote notes of condolence and promised prayers. Individual generosity compounded at an amazing pace.
Nathan Trapuzzano’s story is spreading like wildfire across America. He was a good man whose life was stolen from him. He was a wonderful friend and a devoted lover. He’ll be deeply missed. Nathan’s priest described him in a blog post: “He was a true gentleman, considerate of others and always wanting to become a better man.”
Through his well-lived life and early death, Nathan has shown us all the power of individual Americans to freely and bigheartedly give their help to strangers in need. At a time when politicians and bureaucrats continually try to tell us where and how to spend our money—only to end up spending it on frivolities like line dancing in Las Vegas—we can all benefit from a beautiful reminder that the most effective generosity is voluntary.
Never underestimate the power of the free individual. From freedom springs love.