Long Island City, NY – Christopher Santora had only been a firefighter with 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 9/11.”
In his memory, Maureen and Al Santora established the Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund, which awards $50,000 in scholarships each year to New York City’s elementary, middle school and high school students. Scholarships awarded based on an essay competition. 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.
“It’s always a topic that’s related to current events because Christopher loved history,” says Maureen. “It’s something we hope the kids give some thought to. We’re looking for essays that reveal the integrity of the student’s character.”
In light of the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, this year’s question asked students to differentiate between heroes and legends.
“I wanted them to give me their definition of what a hero and a legend is and to write about a legend in our world history, why they chose that person and why that person was significant to them personally based on their definition,” says Maureen.
According to Maureen, heroes do something extraordinary in the moment. A legend is somebody who, for good or bad, has changed the course of history.
“By the end of April I will have had a chance to read the essays and I’ll be able to share with the audience the kinds of people the students chose to write about,” says Maureen.
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