LOWER MERION TOWNSHIP, PA — Numerous first responders in Lower Merion Township have been awarded scholarships from the Main Line Chamber Foundation.
The Main Line Chamber Foundation awarded $50,000 in scholarships to 27 volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians at a June 10 “Celebration of Hometown Heroes” hosted by the Foundation.
Among the honorees was a pioneering a first-ever female firefighter in Ardmore when she started volunteering nearly 30 years ago.
Judy Flanagan, who was given the Community Service Leadership Award of $10,000, volunteers with the Merion Fire Company of Ardmore and is pursuing a nursing degree at Montgomery County Community College.
During her early days of service, Flanagan was with Narberth Ambulance on the horrific scene of the helicopter and small plane collision at Merion Elementary School in 1991 when five people were killed, including Sen. John Heinz and two school girls.
She has two sons, Pearce and Colin, who also volunteer as emergency responders on the Main Line.
A special tradition that began in 2011 continued, as the Thomas J. Hays Memorial Scholarships were presented in honor of a young firefighter with the Merion Fire Company who died in the hours following going out on a call. Three memorial scholarships were awarded to outstanding volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians.
The Thomas J. Hays award recipients, Devora Weintraub of VMSC of Lower Merion, Sean Meals of Gladwyne Fire Company, and Alexis McElhone of Bon Air Fire Company in Havertown, were each awarded a $5,000 scholarship.
Below are the rest of Lower Merion’s awardees:
- Gianfranco Colella, Belmont Hills Fire Company
- Pearce Flanagan, Gladwyne Fire Company
- Hugh Friel Jr, Bryn Mawr Fire Company
- Jacob Homola, Bryn Mawr Fire Company
- Justin Joffe, VMSC of Narberth & Lower Merion
- Gabriel Leskusky, Bryn Mawr Fire Company
- Jasper Lim-Goyette, Penn Wynne-Overbrook Hills Fire Company
- Edward Opczynski III, Merion Fire Company of Ardmore
- Benjamin Schmid, Penn Wynne-Overbrook Hills Fire Company
- Ryan Sholes, VMSC of Narberth & Lower Merion
With these latest awards, The Main Line Chamber Foundation will have given out nearly $550,000 in scholarships to local volunteer emergency responders, the vast majority of whom attend local colleges and universities.
“Particularly through the pandemic, volunteer emergency responders put themselves at risk by responding to emergency calls when many stayed home,” said Maureen McAleer, chairwoman of The Main Line Chamber Foundation Board of Directors. “Residents often don’t realize what an important role these volunteers play in our communities, saving taxpayers millions of dollars that might otherwise go to fund professional emergency responders. We believe it is important to celebrate their service and distribute the scholarship awards at a public ceremony that can shine a light on their invaluable contributions.”
Most of the funds for the scholarship program are raised at the Giant Main Line Run/Walk, which will be held on Sunday, September 12 at 8:30 a.m. The 5-Kilometer run is accompanied by a popular 1.5-mile walk, making the event open to non-runners and whole-family participation.
The course passes through the streets of Wayne, temporarily closing down Lancaster Avenue and neighborhood streets for safety.
Sponsorships for the Run/Walk and donations to The Main Line Chamber Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, are accepted year- round.
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