The exchange 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. Mum”, looking after his boys when their mother was at work, helping with homework and making the focal point of the meal of Thanksgiving.

“He would still be the one cooking the turkey while my mom worked on the sides,” Santoro, 19, of Staten Island, said of his dad, Thomas, Thursday, the family’s second Thanksgiving without him.

Thomas Santoro died at the age of 53 from glioblastoma and metastatic prostate cancer, illnesses linked to his work at Ground Zero following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Jack Santoro, now in his second year studying mechanical engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, received a scholarship, announced this year, in memory of fellow NYPD detective Luis Alvarez of Oceanside, also died of cancer contracted at Ground Zero. job.

The scholarship, $ 25,000 for Santoro’s studies, was awarded by the First Responders Children’s Foundation, which hosted its annual Thanksgiving breakfast on Thursday.

The Alvarez Scholarship was announced on Thanksgiving Day 2019 and is for children of 9/11 first responders sickened by illnesses from Ground Zero’s salvage work.

It is named after Alvarez, whose testimony to Congress before his death in June 2019 is credited with helping secure benefits for thousands of other 9/11 responders.

“Detective Alvarez spent the last weeks of his life testifying (…) before Congress pleading for the extension of the benefits of the Compensation Fund for victims of September 11,” Santoro said. “During this time my dad was in hospice and my family watched these procedures as the Victims Compensation Fund would impact us as well. Watching these procedures my dad was incredibly upset as he thought the extension of the Fund benefits should not have gotten to the point where a very ill Detective Alvarez had to physically testify and argue for an extension of benefits. ”

This year, approximately 700 scholarships were awarded from $ 2,500 to $ 10,000, for a total of $ 600,000, according to Foundation President Jillian Crane. The scholarship is renewable for each school year. The priority, she said, goes to the children of dead or disabled first responders.

Two of the Long Island recipients are Tommy Wilson, 21, of Bellport, and his brother, Ryan, 19. Their father, also named Thomas, 53, has cancer related to his work on 9/11 as an NYPD sergeant.

“Growing up he was always fun, playing with my three little siblings,” said Tommy Wilson. “When he got sick, we couldn’t play with him so much.”

His scholarship of $ 5,000 per year will help pay for tuition at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue, where he participates in a program for students with autism. He had a GPA of 3.8, his mother said. The Ryan Wilson Scholarship is awarded to Syracuse University.


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