The college scholarship continues the legacy of the late NYPD Det. Luis Alvarez
Jack Santoro remembers his NYPD detective father not only as a cop but also as “Mr. Mom,” taking care of his kids when their mom was at work, helping with their homework, and cooking the focal point of the Thanksgiving meal.
“He was always the one who prepared the turkey while my mom worked the sides,” Santoro, 19, of Staten Island, said of his father, Thomas, on Thursday, the family’s second Thanksgiving without him.
Thomas Santoro died at the age of 53 of glioblastoma and metastatic prostate cancer, diseases linked to his work at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Jack Santoro, now a sophomore studying mechanical engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, has been awarded a scholarship, announced this year, in memory of another NYPD detective, Luis Alvarez, of Oceanside, who also died of cancer contracted from Ground Zero. work.
The scholarship, $25,000 for Santoro Studies, was awarded by First Responders Children’s Foundation, which held its annual Thanksgiving Breakfast Thursday.
The Alvarez Scholarship was announced at Thanksgiving 2019 and is for children of 9/11 first responders who contracted illnesses from Ground Zero recovery work.
It is named in memory of Alvarez, whose testimony before Congress prior to his death in June 2019 is credited with helping secure benefits for thousands of fellow 9/11 responders.
“Detective Alvarez has spent the last few weeks of his life testifying… before Congress demanding an extension to the benefits of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund,” Santoro said. “During this time, my father was in aged care, and my family watched these actions because the Victims Compensation Fund would affect us as well. Watching these proceedings, my father was incredibly upset because he thought the extension of fund benefits should not have an effect. We got to the point in which the very ill Detective Alvarez needed to testify physically and demand an extension of benefits.”
This year, about 700 scholarships were awarded from $2,500 to $10,000, for a total of $600,000, according to foundation president Gillian Crane. The scholarship is renewable for each academic year. She said priority goes to children of first responders who have died or had a disability.
Two of the Long Island beneficiaries are Tommy Wilson, 21, of Belport, and his brother, Ryan, 19, and their father, also named Thomas, 53, has cancer due to his work on 9/11 as an NYPD sergeant.
“Growing up, it was always fun, playing with my three younger brothers and sister,” said Tommy Wilson. “When he got sick, we couldn’t play with him as much.”
His scholarship is $5,000 annually, and will help obtain education at St. Joseph’s College in Patchoug, where he participates in a program for students with autism. His mother said he averaged 3.8 points. Ryan Wilson Scholarship to Syracuse University.