Scholarship fund helps children of fallen Wilmington firefighters

Three Wilmington firefighters died from injuries they received while fighting a rowhome fire in the city on Sept. 24,
 2017. (File/WHYY)

Three Wilmington firefighters died from injuries they received while fighting a rowhome fire in the city on Sept. 24, 2017. (File/WHYY)

A $100,000 donation from Alan and Ellen Levin will help the children of two Wilmington firefighters killed in September continue their education at their private schools.

The Delaware Fallen Heroes Scholarship Fund will cover the education expenses of the children through 2024, if needed. The money is currently funding the schooling of firefighter Ardythe Hope’s two youngest daughters at St. Elizabeth High School, and Lt. Christopher Leach’s daughters, one at Padua Academy and the other at St. Ann School.

Hope, Leach and Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes were fatally injured while fighting an intentionally set rowhome fire in Wilmington on Sept. 24. Fickes and Leach were pronounced dead at the scene, Hope died from her injuries on Dec. 1.

“We hope this fund will serve as a way for all of us to help care for the children these and other first responders leave behind,” Levin said. “It is our hope that companies and others in Delaware will support the fund, which supports those who do so much for all of us.” 

Children of firefighters killed in the line of duty are eligible for state funding for tuition at a college or university in Delaware. If the children decide on a school outside of Delaware, the Fallen Heroes Scholarship Fund will cover those expenses.

The tuition for Hope and Leach’s children has been completely covered by the fund. To help keep the fund available for other children in the future, leaders at Padua and St. Elizabeth have agreed to accept just one-third of the standard tuition at the schools.

The Delaware Community Foundation will administer the fund.

“This is a real example of a community identifying a need and working together to address it and improve the quality of life for those who require support,” said DCF President and CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay. 

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