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Wendy Reuer, Published August 08 2013

VIDEO: Kentucky man gives Fargo waitress $500 tip to honor his brother

FARGO – The table of three on the Rhombus Guys roof here was just another among the handful of responsibilities server Holly Kaderlik was tending to Monday night.

The trio was friendly and had chatted with her and each other as they enjoyed their meal.

Then it was time to pay the bill.

One of the diners, 33-year-old Seth Collins, got up from the table and explained to Kaderlik that her tip would be abnormal.

Collins added a $500 tip for Kaderlik, a gratuity in honor of his brother, Aaron Collins, who died July 7, 2012.

His death was unexpected but through the years he had prepared for the day by creating a makeshift will, the last directive being to leave a very large tip for a server.

“And he didn’t mean just like 25 percent,” Seth Collins said.

Although Aaron didn’t spend much time as a server – he worked briefly as a pizza maker in a pizzeria – he always made sure waiters and waitresses were taken care of, Collins said.

“Even as a kid, if he thought Mom and Dad hadn’t left a generous enough tip, he would take a couple bucks of his allowance money and toss it on the table,” he said on Thursday.

Aaron had hoped to leave behind enough money so his wish could be carried out, but he left the world too soon, Seth said. Family and friends donated the cash so Collins could carry out the wish in their hometown of Lexington Ky.

Collins then filmed the exchange to record the moment for those who had donated. The video went viral and soon donations came in from around the country for Collins to repeat the gratuitous gift. With more than $50,000 in donations, he decided to travel across the country, leaving a $500 tip in all 50 states.

The early week visit to Fargo was Collins’ 12th state.

He stayed at the home of two Fargo couch surfers, a network of hosts who open their home to travelers.

True to form, Collins made no plans about where or who he would give the tip to, only that he would do it while out to dinner or lunch with his hosts. Because his two hosts had to work on Tuesday, they took Collins to dinner at Rhombus Guys, a local favorite.

They were seated at Kaderlik’s table by chance.

“It was a just a regular table, I treated them like I would treat any other table,” Kaderlik said.

In the video, which has been uploaded to AaronCollins.Org, Kaderlik can be seen suspiciously eyeing the video camera when she goes to pick up the check. As it begins to sink in, Kaderlik’s face flushes with shades of shock, disbelief, happiness and gratitude.

Rhombus Guys co-owner Matt Winjum said Collins’ story is incredible. Winjum said he has never heard of such a thing.

Kaderlik, a 24-year-old student at Minnesota State University Moorhead, is pursuing an education degree after earning a music degree at Concordia College. She is preparing to student teach in the fall.

A server since 2009, Kaderlik said she enjoys her job and tries to make sure her tables are entertained.

“I just like to have fun with my tables because it’s not fun for me if my tables aren’t having fun,” she said. “You learn so much from serving, the interactions you have and how to deal with people. I think it’s fun.”

Although Kaderlik initially said she’ll probably pay bills with the money, she said Thursday she hopes to pay back her good fortune.

“I feel like I should pay it forward, at least some of it,” she said. “It’s one of those things I want to make sure it will go to something good or it will be used for good intentions.”

While Collins is glad to hear Kaderlik wants to share the karma, it’s not necessary, he said.

“I hope if nothing else it inspires people to be kind to each other in general,” he said.

Collins started his 50-state trek on June 18, following the Fargo stop with one in Billings, Mont. He expects leaving Aaron’s Wish behind in all 50 states will take until the end of the year, with a few stops in the first part of 2014.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530