President’s Update: Remembering Avery Gilbert (2004-2022)

August 11, 2022
An update from President Perrin on the sudden and tragic passing of Avery Gilbert, an incoming freshman football player.  Avery Gilbert in his TIU football uniform Dear Trinity Community, Last night Trinity College students, faculty, and staff gathered together in the Chapel to grieve, process, and pray through the tragic and unexpected death of incoming freshman student and football player Avery Gilbert, just his third day on campus. Prior to the prayer meeting, Camie and I were able to meet briefly with Avery’s parents and other family members at the local hospital, to learn more about who Avery was and what he was like—and to grieve with them.
Stunned and deeply saddened by his death, we took the opportunity at last night’s prayer meeting to find comfort first from God and then from one another. In John’s Gospel we are told that when the young man Lazarus died, Jesus went to the tomb to grieve with the sisters, Martha and Mary, as well as to extend hope, reminding everyone that in God’s eyes Lazarus had only “fallen asleep.” Yesterday, friends, our Lazarus fell asleep and through our prayer time, Jesus also met us to grieve with us and to extend resurrection hope. Earlier in the day yesterday, Avery was found by a fellow teammate in the Johnson Hall entryway collapsed and soon unresponsive and not breathing—all apparently related to a pre-existing medical condition triggered by an allergen. Arriving within minutes of being called, EMS quickly administered CPR and other life-saving measures, supported by Trinity’s Security Chief Aron Forch, before transporting Avery to Highland Park Hospital. He passed away at approximately 1:30 PM (CST). At this point, the Lake County Coroner has not yet officially determined the cause of death. We will keep you apprised of appropriate details as more information becomes available. A 2022 graduate of Grayslake North High School, Avery hailed from Lake Villa, Illinois, and was known for his infectious energy, generosity, and joy. Talking to Avery’s family and Head Football Coach Willie Tillman, from the very first day he showed up on campus, Avery was “all in,” ready to participate in community life and to be the best student and best wide receiver he could be. I regret that I didn’t have the opportunity to meet this remarkable man, at least not in this life. In due course, we will be holding a memorial service in Avery’s honor (stay tuned for details). For now, Coach Tillman has also informed me that the 2022 Trojan football season will be dedicated to Avery Gilbert as we honor his name and #87. I am grateful to our many counseling faculty and staff who cut short their break in order to provide immediate support in the wake of the tragic news. Coach Tillman also shared with me that although the team is devastated by the news, his coaching staff will be working hard to ensure that our Trojan football players receive all the support they need. Vice President of Student Life Mark Muha and his team are also implementing multiple channels for emotional and counseling support for all Trinity students; Trinity staff are being cared for as well. Stop by his office in Lower Waybright or contact him at 847.317.4026 or [email protected] for further information. Residence Life staff are also here to serve our students. Students, if you (or people you know) are in need of special support, I encourage you to avail yourself of the resources we have provided. The University has set up walk-in counseling support for today (Aug. 11), until 5 p.m., in Lower Waybright. Please call 847.317.4026 or simply check in at the front desk in the Student Life office in Lower Waybright. Yesterday afternoon our Lazarus fell asleep: I know I speak for all Trinity faculty and staff when I say that today, tomorrow, and in the days to come we aim by God’s grace to be Jesus to all the Mary’s and Martha’s in our midst. For now, in the aftermath of this tragedy, as we undertake this journey together, I would simply urge all Trinity community members to make extra time to meet with Jesus and to take the opportunity to be Jesus to a grieving brother or sister. Grace and peace, -- Nicholas Perrin, PhD
Trinity International University