The family of a University of Vermont student who died in the snow after leaving a fraternity party alone wants to make sure no other student meets the same tragic fate. Connor Gage's parents have started the "Connor Gage Never Walk Alone Fund," with the aim of helping UVM educate students about the dangers of mixing alcohol and cold weather—among other risks of walking alone—and arm them with tools to keep themselves safe, such as using the buddy system. Gage, 19, was found in the snow in a parking lot Feb. 2; he was apparently trying to take a shortcut in below-freezing temperatures when he died. An autopsy revealed that intoxication exacerbated the hypothermia that killed him.
Thousands of people attended services for Gage over the weekend, and his parents asked for donations to the fund in lieu of flowers. They tell the Burlington Free Press they received a number of donations from mourners, and they've also started a GoFundMe campaign to raise more. "A lot of crimes happen to people, or even just accidents happen to people, when they're alone," Gage's mother says. "There's power in numbers." The family plans to eventually expand the program to other universities and high schools. But they told the Free Press last week they want Gage, a kind and altruistic teen who wanted to be a doctor, to be remembered for his life, not how he died: "One event doesn't define you," says his stepfather. (Another student died during January's polar vortex.)