19-year-old receives $10,000 scholarship for family's heroism during 9/11 attack
This year will mark 20 years since the 9/11 attacks. Over the years, a national foundation has been giving back to local children of first responders who died on that tragic day.
Staring out at the Manhattan skyline where the Twin Towers once stood tall, 19-year-old Thomas Caputo is thinking of his loved ones either lost or impacted by the 9/11 attacks.
"On September 11th, I lost both my grandfather and my uncle. In the days and months following the collapse of the towers, my uncle and my father were down at ground zero kind of going through the rubble," Thomas said.
Both his grandfather Thomas Deangelis and uncle Edward Geraghty served in the FDNY at Manhattan precincts but were in the south tower of the World Trade Center when it collapsed.
His other uncle Michael Ledek, an NYPD detective, died in 2018 from cancer related to 9/11. His father Charles Caputo, who served for a Bronx NYPD precinct, is currently battling a 9/11-related illness.
Thomas is now being awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the First Responders Children's Foundation for his family's heroism.
"It was a little bit of a surprise. I remember I was at school and my mom called me all excited. The scholarship really allowed me to attend Villanova University without having to take out more loans than I really wanted to," he added.
"These are the real heroes, they run into danger every day. We are here to help their families," says Jillian Crane, President of First Responders Children's Foundation.
The foundation gives financial support to children of first responders who died or have been impacted in the line of duty.
For Thomas, who is one of more than 200 recipients nationwide, he'll be using the scholarship to work towards a career in nursing hoping to follow in his families' footsteps of helping others.
"I thought that just by entering the medical field and being a doctor or a nurse knowing that I'm able to help someone. I thought it would be living up to my grandfather's and uncles' expectations," Thomas added.