LIGHTNING RELEASES: Long Island City, NY (12/7/2013) – Christopher Santora had only been a member of Engine 54, Ladder 4 for two months when he died tragically on September 11th.
“It devastated us, but my husband and I both understood we couldn’t change what happened,” recalls his mother Maureen Santora. “We wanted to do something that would benefit the future generations and help them remember September 11th.”
In his memory, the Santoras established the Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund. Supported by donations from caring individuals and corporate sponsors, the Christopher Santora Education Scholarship Fund awards $50,000 in scholarships each year to New York City’s elementary, middle school and high school students. Since its inception, the fund has awarded more than half a million dollars in scholarships.
“I saw 9/11 as an act of hatred,” says Maureen. “We wanted to counter that hatred by encouraging others to be generous and kind and more compassionate and tolerant.”
The fund’s scholarships are not awarded based on grades but rather on an essay competition. Students are asked to engage a topic related to history and current events. The essays are evaluated based on the student’s response to the topic, grammar and spelling, originality and their ability to relate the topic to their personal experience.
Maureen says they’re looking for essays that reveal the integrity of the student’s character in what they write.
“The passion is usually what makes the winning essay,” says Maureen. “The students who have won felt very strongly about their positions. That was Christopher. He never wanted to be on the side he didn’t feel passionate about.”
Today, Maureen is a sought-after advocate for families whose loved ones died on September 11th. She is the author of three books: My Son Christopher; We Remember and The Day the Towers Fell, a children’s book written to help explain the tragic events of September 11th.
“You don’t get to choose how these terrible things occur but you have a choice how to react,” says Maureen. “We work very hard all year to raise funds. Our hope was to create something good out of something truly horrible and our dream is that the scholarship can continue for a very long time.”
Close-Up Talk Radio will feature Maureen Santora in a five-part interview with Doug Llewelyn on December 9th and December 16 at 7pm and with Jim Masters on December 23rd, December 30th and January 26th at 7pm.
Listen to the show www.blogtalkradio.com/closeuptalkradio. If you have a question for our guest, call (347) 996-3389.