Bachelorette contestant, Eric Bigger, fundraises at 51 Main

Eric+Bigger%2C+from+Season+13+of+the+The+Bachelorette%2C+attended+a+Hospice+Hearts+Fundraiser+at+Venue+51+on+Friday%2C+Oct.+6.+

Photo Courtesy of Terry Brown CU Bands and Fans

Eric Bigger, from Season 13 of the “The Bachelorette,” attended a Hospice Hearts Fundraiser at Venue 51 on Friday, Oct. 6.

By Sam Schrage, Staff writer

When Eric Bigger met Season 13 “Bachelorette” contestant Rachel Lindsay for the first time on March 13 on national television, he had no idea his journey to find love would lead him to Champaign nearly seven months later.

Bigger, who was one of Lindsay’s top three suitors before being eliminated leading up to the finale, quickly rose to fame as a fan favorite.

Almost a year after Lindsay said goodbye to Bigger in Rioja, Spain, Bigger traveled to Champaign, Illinois, on Friday to meet his fans in the Midwest and to raise money for Hospice Hearts.

One of two events throughout the weekend took place at 51 Main and brought awareness to Hospice Hearts, a nonprofit animal rescue organization that provides care for elderly cats and dogs whose owners are no longer able to take care of them.

Raising money and bringing awareness to Hospice Hearts and other charitable organizations is important to Bigger, who strives to use his platform as a way to give back to the community and encourage others to do so as well.

“People see you as an influence, and when you have influence, you have followers and fans and people who believe in you,” Bigger said. “People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care. So for me, I always see myself as a role model, and I want to give back and raise awareness about everything because I have a voice and a platform. Giving back is part of who I am.”

Stefanie Pratt, event organizer, specifically picked a local nonprofit organization to donate a portion of the event’s proceeds to. Pratt chose Hospice Hearts because of its financial challenges.

“I always like to give back, and I think tying an event to a non-for profit and helping raise money and awareness is always a good thing,” Pratt said. “Because this was my event, I’m able to control every aspect of it and take that risk for Hospice Hearts, so all they have to do is reap the benefits.”

In addition to spreading awareness about Hospice Hearts, Bigger was also excited to interact with his fans in the Midwest and allow them to get to know him outside of reality TV.

“This is the first time I’ve been to the Midwest to see my fans out here,” Bigger said. “It’s good for me to see people’s perspectives on me based on the show and get to know who I am as a person. I love meeting my fans to see how my story and what I went through has impacted them.

Bigger’s personality on the show is part of what made him a fan favorite from the very beginning. His infectious smile and positive outlook on life gave him a large fan base that is still rooting for him to find love today.

Savannah Carter, junior in LAS, attended the charity event.

“This is the first season I’ve watched the show, and I immediately became a huge fan of Eric because he was so sweet and true to himself,” Carter said. “He seemed like one of the more genuine people on the show, and I liked that he was a good friend and actually stood up for the other guys on the show.”

Bigger’s genuine personality is part of what contributes to the way he lives his life and one of the reasons why he finds it important to give back to charities.

“Positivity is just who I am. I’ve been that way my whole life. I always find the good in everything no matter how bad it could be,” Bigger said. “If you take the good with the bad at the end of the day, nothing is really bad because the bad things you really learn and evolve from.”

Throughout his time on the show, Bigger learned to fully embrace who he was, where he came from and to be proud of it.

He said at the end of the day, he learned that we are who we are, no matter where we are.

“I was hiding behind my positivity with the pain I endured and the challenges of growing up in a tough city, and just being in a broken home,” Bigger said. “Those are things that I didn’t really want people to know, but being on TV and going through that experience allowed me to own it and be okay with and move forward with myself and in life.”

His experience on the show is what inspired him to create the “Season of Miracles” and give hope to people that miracles are possible and surround us every day.

Bigger said he now tells people they can get anything they want in life that’s challenging, but they have to go through a process of obtaining it.

Bigger’s miracle of falling in love for the first time is something he will never forget. It transformed him into who he is today and gives him hope that someday he’ll find that same kind of love again.

“For me, I went through a lot on the show,” Bigger said. “I got into it with the guys in the house, I got into it with Rachel, I got banged up, I fell off a golf cart, but I fell in love. So at the end of the day, it was all worth it, and I got my miracle.”

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