Paula Ann Solis
Following the news of the explosion in West, almost one hundred students and faculty from the Baylor community came together at a student organized candlelight vigil to pray outside of Waco Hall.
The vigil was started by Baylor Sophomore Class President Ben Prado, from Richardson, who tweeted to fellow classmates to meet him in front of Waco Hall at midnight. Prado purchased several candles and lighters and waited for students to join him.
“I was feeling absolutely helpless,” Prado said. “I wasn’t sure what we could do. I knew I couldn’t go to West, so I thought we should get together and do what we can, and that’s pray.”
One Baylor student in attendance was Spring Branch sophomore Brooklyn George who said she heard about the midnight vigil through Twitter.
“I’m at a lost for words,” George said. “All I can say is: the power of prayer. We can’t do much right now but pray.”
Other students who came to the midnight vigil felt compelled to do more, such as Sachse freshman Chelbie Williams and Highlands Ranch, Colo., freshman Cody Nelson. The pair, along with a group of four other friends, were leaving the vigil to buy water at the local Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to deliver it to the Bellmead Fire Department.
“I feel so blessed to go to a school where we can come together and lift West up in prayer,” Williams said. Neither Nelson nor Williams have a personal connection to West, but said they each felt compelled to do something.
Nelson said that while traveling near the station may be difficult, “we’ll get as close to the station as we can.”
One Baylor student’s connection to West was personnel. Freshman Abigail Gilliam from Hillsboro, located just 18 minutes north of West, was at the midnight vigil thinking of those she knew who were affected.
“I am just so moved that Baylor would come out and do this for the people out there,” Gilliam said. Gilliam said she contacted her family immediately after hearing about the explosion. Gilliam said her father was alone at home and he told her he felt their entire home shake when the explosion happened.
Gilliam said she still has several people unaccounted for and has been waiting on phone calls all night.
Baylor Law School part time lecturer David Henry, was at the midnight vigil offering any support for students such as Gilliam who were affected by the events in West.
“My role here tonight is to support them and see what they need,” Henry said. “This is one chance, a tragic one, but a chance to give back to the Baylor community.”
Henry, who is also an adviser for Delta Delta Delta, said he received several calls from students following the event at West. Henry also said that the daughter of a fellow adviser, whose name he did not feel at liberty to expose, had her house destroyed by the explosion.
Delta Delta Delta will be holding a meeting today at 11 a.m. at their chapter room to discuss ways to help that adviser’s family and others in the West community.