Foundation Sends Family Members of 9/11 Victims to College


09:11 VictimsFamily members of 09/11 victims are getting the gift of a lifetime – a college education. On September 11, 2001, thousands of innocent Americans lost their lives when planes hijacked by terrorists crashed into the two New York City Twin Towers, an open field in Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon.

As a result of this cowardly act, 3,051 children lost at least one parent. On that fateful day, approximately 300 of those children were in kindergartner but now, many are gearing up toward college. Thanks to the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund, about 100 of the children are being provided with full scholarships. This foundation was created just one week after 09/11 as a way to benefit the children who lost a parent or parents.

Initially, the organization enlisted the help of Senator Bob Dole and then President Bill Clinton in an effort to raise over $100 million, money that would allow the children of 09/11 victims to focus on college and not the money needed to get a higher education. The financial goal was met and this fall, the final $4.8 million contributed will be handed out.

According to Rhianna Quinn Roddy, executive director of the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund, in the first year after the September 11 attacks, 20,000 people contributed, which sends out a very powerful message to the children that while still in kindergarten, their future and education were on the hearts and minds of people around the world.

Roddy goes on to say that the greatest message is that these children knew growing up that the world was there to offer encouragement and support, not only while young, but into adulthood. Because the initial $100 million was invested well, full scholarships can be awarded until 2013. Although much of the money has gone to helping the children of 09/11 victims with education, the scholarships can be taken advantage of by spouses too.

Jean Fischer whose husband John R. Fischer, a fire captain, lost his life on 09/11 was able to earn a law degree from a NY Law School thanks to funds provided by the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund. With her degree, she has had the opportunity to redirect her focus on the couple’s children and to provide them with a better future, despite the tragedy.

However, the funds have accomplished much more. Jean had been a stay-at-home mom, caring for three children at the time her husband was killed. In order to support the family, she had to get an education. As Jean puts it, money provided for her education not only helped her earn a degree, it showed her children the value of being diligent and determined even when facing the most horrible day of life.

In addition to providing financial assistance for children and spouses of 09/11 victims specific to education, the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund offers aid to people who became disabled in the disaster’s aftermath. One example is of a man who died of pancreatic cancer in 2007 as a result of working at ground zero after the attacks. Because of this, he was able to live a relatively normal life without the stress of finances until his passing.

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