WATERLOO, Ill. - Hundreds of people came out to the Waterloo Middle School football field Thursday evening to honor the memory of fallen Illinois State Police Trooper Nick Hopkins.
Hundreds of candles were lit as his brother spoke about fond memories and how much his brother will be missed.
Hopkins was married with twins and a daughter. Sarah Quernheim, a family friend, helped organize the vigil. She said this was an opportunity for anyone who wanted to show support to do so by coming together and praying.
“We believe in the power of prayer,” she said.
Quernheim said the strong show of support was also an opportunity for Hopkins’ children to see how much their father was loved and admired. She said Hopkins’ widow wanted everyone to be able to understand that her children have lost of a loving father.
Those who knew Hopkins had countless stories about how his kindness had touched them. His kindness also touched strangers.
Cynthia Stanley was stranded on the shoulder of an Illinois interstate in 2015 when Trooper Hopkins came to her rescue.
“He was just so warm. You don’t come across people like that every day,” she said.
Stanley said Hopkins insisted on filling up a gas container, paying for the gas, and putting it in her car. She posted photos of the encounter on Facebook shortly after it happened and reposted those photos once she heard about Hopkins’ death.
“I’m very grateful I had that opportunity and that moment I got to have with him,” said Stanley. “He had an impact on my heart.”
She hopes Hopkins’ family will find some comfort in knowing just how much of a lasting impression he had on her.
There is also an effort to line the funeral route of Trooper Hopkins with American flags. Anyone wanting to help can meet near 301 East First Street starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Sturdy shoe and gloves are recommended to help with the placement of the flags.