On July 29, 2013, the Maryland teen tweeted, “Take a second to stop and do something nice for someone random today… it feels nice.” Later that night, Mason died in a single-vehicle car accident when he lost control of his car and struck a tree. The death rocked the local community, where Brad was a widely liked and respected student.
Now, to honor his legacy, a group of students involved in the Students Against Destructive Decisions group at Crisfield High School have raised $10,000 to name a room after him in the new Somerset County Public Library. Principal Chantal Russum says the students put their hearts into the donation drive, and their hard work raised the money eight months ahead of schedule.
The SADD group’s advisor Lynne Brumley noted that the Crisfield Police Department and other community members consistently turned up for fundraisers, and called the campaign a true “community effort.”
In addition to being valedictorian, Mason also interned at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and was awarded a $10,000 scholarship to the University of Maryland by Northrop Grumman. Mason was passionate about science and technology, specifically engineering.
That makes the new Somerset library a fitting place to bear his name. Young people nationwide are reading less than in previous years, with just 17% of 17-year-old teens reading daily. And while children under seven read for 45 minutes a day on average in 1999, that number has dropped to just 30 minutes in recent years.
The SADD library fundraiser isn’t the only way Mason’s legacy has impacted his community. After his death, Northrop Grumman donated $5,000 to Crisfield High School to support science, technology, engineering and math programs at the school, a gift his mother Diana called “overwhelming.” Other businesses and community members offered donations as well.
“Businesses like Grumman, NASA — they’re doing things to help Brad’s legacy,” said Mason’s father Thomas at the time. “Brad is going to enable us to help some kids with their education.”
The successful SADD donation drive, and the students behind it, ensure that legacy will continue into 2016 and beyond.