The Story of Dale and the Rock

By:  Diane Benjamin

Update to this story:

Dale Nelson was riding his bike with two friends when he was hit by a drunk driver.  August 21st is the first anniversary of his death.

Dale’s eyes were donated to a blind boy in Michigan.

Dale’s kidneys were donated to two people, a true gift of life.

A large group on Facebook wanted to do something to remember Dale since he wasn’t included on the memorial bench at Normal West.  No, I was not leading the effort!

One person suggested a large rock instead of a bench.  That guy went ahead and donated a rock and an inscription for it.  I believe in this picture it hadn’t been powder-coated yet:

The problem now is Parks and Rec at the City of Bloomington have not given permission to place the rock anywhere.  Dale’s mom told me Dale loved Miller Park and Forrest Park.

The anniversary of Dale’s death is fast approaching.  The group hopes the rock can be placed somewhere in time to remember Dale this year.

This story has every element needed to make it something the City should do:

  • Dale died way too young because he was riding a bike
  • Dale was hit by a drunk driver, the rock can remind people not to drink and drive
  • Dale was an organ donor, his short life needs to not be forgotten


The Bloomington City Council can pass a resolution allowing the rock to be placed in either Miller or Forrest Park in time for the anniversary.  Dale’s mom wants to do a balloon release that day.

If you agree that Dale should not be forgotten, please contact your Alderman.

Contact info here:









27 thoughts on “The Story of Dale and the Rock

  1. There are SO many places that this would just “FIT” right in at EITHER park, both of which I spent MANY childhood days at. What is the matter with this city and council??
    By the lake, on the playground or at the stream in Forrest park, ANY of those come to mind.

  2. Unfortunately there are times where leaders must base a decision not on the exact situation at hand (Dale in this case), but rather on the overall good for the community. If this is approved, how would any other requests not be approved? Then perhaps our parks would become cemetery or memorial gardens – which serve different purposes than parks. Tough situation for all involved, but the decision can’t be made just because of the very tragic loss of someone who died much too early and who was very generous with organ donation so others could live on. Just another point of view on the topic.

      1. Rachel you can put it in my yard if the city can’t find a place to put it.. it would be a honor to watch over my cousin memorial..

  3. Maybe Normal’s Town Council should be contacted in addition because according to the original article, Dale also enjoyed attending the Cornbelters games.

  4. I’m praying for Dale. Sounds like the community needs more bicycle infrastructure. Protected bike lanes, separated bike lanes, more off road bike paths. And certainly more motorist and bicyclist education.

    1. Dale was killed by a drunk driver. How about stricter penalties for drunk drivers to keep them off of the road. More bicycle infrastructure would not have saved this young man. This memorial is not about bicycles.
      And, as one who “Serves Him” should know, God works in mysterious ways—mainly to foster compassion for others. The memorial is for the grieving family who lost their teenage son who was too young to drive but agreed to donate the boys organs so others could live. Sounds a bit like “no greater love than this…”

      1. Is there evidence that stricter laws have an effect on drunk drivers? Or, as I suggested, is more education the key? Capital punishment doesn’t deter murder and that’s about as strict as you can get. And while God may work in mysterious ways, I believe in using what He’s already provided to make the Earth a better place. Like the wisdom of providing more bicyclist and motorist education, and the statistics showing more on-street safety measures save lives and prevent the tragedy that beset both families — the victim and the driver. Finally, “The Lord works in mysterious ways…” isn’t actually in the Bible. Not mine, at least.

      2. @Serving him—take away the driving privileges of drunk drivers. Killing someone while driving can be ruled as manslaughter or something more serious. Education and detox treatment don’t work for drunk drivers. The Courts are two lenient.

      3. Serving Him— driving is a privilege not a right. You can’t fix stupid.
        I’m speaking as a supporter of MADD since it’s inception over 30 years ago.

      4. Serving Him—notice I didn’t put quotation marks around the phrase, God Works in mysterious ways. Thanks for assuming I don’t know what is in Sacred Scripture.

    2. Yes, maybe some sidewalks for the families that live in any number of the mobile home parks on the west side of Bloomington. Of course Bike BloNo does not consider the poor when they lobby politicians…just the elite.

  5. Maybe instead of a memorial for an individual bicyclist killed by a car driver, it should be a memorial for ALL bicyclists killed by cars in the community. Otherwise, I could see Miller Park becoming overwhelmed by memorials for every tragic death.

    1. This is not about bicycles. Was the student who got the bench donated in his name killed while riding a bicycle? I don’t think so. This also not about religion. This is about a grieving family whose son should possibly be remembered in a similar fashion as other teens who lost their lives last year.
      When I read this story, I knew someone would bring up the need for more bicycle infrastructure. Thanks, “Serving Him.”

  6. Good potential solution by Serving Him. Almost every death becomes a tragic death to someone. Look at all the recent unnecessary shooting deaths, car accidents, etc. By approving one tragic death (this one being a bike accident) opens the door for ALL tragic deaths and is not an isolated incident. All deaths besides those of natural causes/old age would have someone (understandably) championing a cause for their own memorial. Those are important and belong somewhere, but not in a public park, in my opinion. Yes, Miller Park can be considered a War Memorial park, but not a park for ALL tragic deaths. That is what a cemetery and/or truly dedicated memorial garden/park can be for.

      1. Sounds like an opportunity for Normal West to solve and not the City of Bloomington then, perhaps?

  7. If the bench is at Normal West then perhaps the rock should be placed near the bench. Just a suggestion.

  8. Dale’s parents pay taxes to support Miller Park so technically ,as a citizen his parents can place it in ANY park that is taxpayer supported .

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