EMERSON, N.J. -- Two graduating seniors from Emerson Junior-Senior High School received scholarships Thursday in the name of a popular school athlete who died in 2000.
Brian McCormick and Devin Riker received their scholarships from members of the Eric Ayala Memorial Foundation Committee during a senior awards ceremony.
"It was no easy decision," committee member Wendy Woods Inserra told Daily Voice. "There were more than 30 incredible applicants interviewed, and all of them were so impressive."
Eric Ayala was a three-sport Emerson High School athlete who died on May 8, 2000 at the age of 23, six years after he was graduated from Emerson Junior-Senior High School -- and only four months after he was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia.
Created by his friends, brother, teacher and wrestling coach, the Eric Ayala Memorial Foundation has distributed more than $100,000 in donations.
In this way, organizers say, they "convey Eric’s message of making the most of every day and always looking to help others."
Last month, the foundation for the very first time also awarded a scholarship to a Park Ridge High School senior, Josh Lewis. SEE: Park Ridge HS Senior Gets Scholarship From Eric Ayala Foundation