Rossomando died as a result of the World Trade Center attack on 9-11.
"Words can't describe how I feel about being a part of this process," said Sansone, who said he first became aware of the charity through a phone call from the deceased fire fighter's mother. "The whole experience has been incredible. I feel blessed to have been given this opportunity to raise funds for such a worthwhile cause," he said.
Sansone originally decided to attempt the 26-mile run as a challenge to turning forty this past October. However, he was not initially selected to participate in the run by the New York City Roadrunners, the organization which runs the marathon. The Roadrunners receive close to 100,000 applications every year, yet permit only approximately 35,000 runners. Runners are selected through a lottery process, by representing a charity or are pre-qualified professional runners.
Shortly after the rejection, Sansone was contacted by Barbara Scaramuzzino [Rossomando's mother] and asked him to be one of 20 runners to participate in order to raise money for a student scholarship fund created in her son's honor. Sansone accepted, and has since raised over $12,000 for the charity, which, according to Rossomando's brother Christopher, required only $2,500 from each runner.
"Andy's done above and beyond what we asked for from our runners. He's a great person who I've come to regard as a friend," said Christopher.
One of Sansone's most notable contributions to the fund came in the form of a recent fundraiser several weeks ago. On his birthday, he was a guest bartender at an upper west side bar in Manhattan, where his friends and family were in attendance, and raised over $2,000 in the process.
Raising money, however, isn't the only effort Sansone has made to prepare for the 26-mile track across New York City's five boroughs.
Since he was not an experienced runner, Sansone has been training five days a week, running up to five miles on weekdays and up to 20 miles on the weekend in locations throughout Hudson and Bergen County.
In addition, Sansone took part in a several local races, including the Hoboken Police Department's 5-K run/walk against crime and drugs in August, the Party with Purpose 5-K run in July, and Jersey City's Newport Liberty half-marathon (13 miles) this past September.
The hero and his fund
A native New Yorker, Nicholas Rossomando, 35, was assigned to Fire Company Rescue 5 located in Staten Island. On Sept. 11, 2001, hours before the end of his shift, Rossomando was called to lower Manhattan in response to the attack on the World Trade Center. Rossomando, along with 342 of his fellow New York City Fire Fighters, was killed while attempting to secure and evacuate the area.
As a result of his courageous efforts, Rossomando was posthumously awarded the prestigious Medal of Valor in September of 2005, which was accepted by his mother Barbara Scaramuzzino.
In the weeks following 9-11, Rossomando's brother Christopher "conceived the idea of creating a fund to keep Nick's memory alive," according to Scaramuzzino.
In a phone interview she mentioned that a contributing factor for the creation of the fund was her fear that her son might be forgotten, since he was not married and had no children.
The scholarship fund benefits senior athletes at Port Richmond High School in Staten Island who have had to overcome obstacles earlier in life and have been accepted to college and are in need of financial assistance. Beginning in 2002, the fund has donated $1,000 into the bursar's office of the college selected by the chosen male and female student. Since the Rossomandos are anticipating a much larger amount of money this year, the family has not yet determined whether or not they will choose a handful of students to distribute the funds or save excess money for future students.
To learn more about the fund or to make a donation, log on to www.nicks911collegefund.org.
Michael Mullins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.