Beloved bell ringer Michael Gorr passes away
The Twin Cities Salvation Army was saddened to learn that one of our most beloved bell ringers, Michael Gorr, passed away over the weekend.
Michael lived with cerebral palsy, but he never allowed the disease to stop him from spreading joy. He rang bells more than anybody else in the Twin Cities during the 2017 Christmas season, logging 284 volunteer hours at his favorite kettle location at Mall of America, six days a week (read story).
Michael had been ringing in the same spot for the past four Christmas seasons. He enjoyed bell ringing because the money he raised changed lives.
“Let all the bell ringers know that they are important,” Michael said during an interview in early December, smiling, with a bell in his hand. “When they are ringing, they are helping out so many people.”
Michael’s efforts raised thousands of dollars for The Salvation Army. His most lucrative year was 2015, when he rang for 246 hours and raised more than $9,600. During the 2017 Christmas season, he raised an impressive $8,800.
“Every day when I leave Mall of America, my kettle is full,” Gorr said during the December interview.
Michael’s caregiver, Leah Okongwa, told KARE 11 news, “It meant everything to him to be a Salvation Army bell ringer and to have the privilege of helping others.”
Similarly, it meant everything to The Salvation Army to have Michael as a bell ringer.
“Michael’s legacy will live on through the countless people The Salvation Army was able to serve through the money he raised,” said Haley Nelson, Twin Cities Salvation Army volunteer coordinator. “May he rest in peace.”
On Christmas Day, KARE 11’s “Land of 10,000 Stories” aired this beautiful story about Michael: