By Meredith Farrington, Staff Writer
The Dennis Zilinski Foundation awarded scholarships to sophomore Jordan Codispoti, junior Julia Hallman and senior Madison Huber. The three girls received their scholarships in recognition of and gratitude for their community service efforts both inside and outside of school.
Dennis Zilinski was a Christian Brothers Academy graduate who served in the military and was killed in action in Iraq in 2005. The foundation’s main missions are to give scholarships to high school students who lead within their communities and to provide support for members of the United States Armed Forces and their families. The foundation sends shipments to troops and provides service dogs to veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, along with many other necessities for veterans as well as active members of the Armed Forces.
Codispoti, Hallman and Huber have each showed their leadership qualities in a different way. Each student has been working on or is planning a service project of her own creation with the Zilinski Foundation in mind. Each of them hope to spread awareness in support of those who serve or have served the United States.
Huber has been involved with the foundation since she was a sophomore. She originally learned of the foundation through her brother, who participated in a collection at his middle school. In 2016, she applied for the Zilinski scholarship. Although Huber was not awarded it, she still wanted to help because she believed in the foundation’s mission of helping both active military personnel and veterans. She talked to her athletic trainer, and he offered to host a boot camp and workout with the proceeds going to the Zilinski Foundation.
“Everything just kind of spiraled out from there. It took on a life of its own,” Huber said. She solicited support for the event throughout the summer of 2016 and put in over 100 hours of work to make the boot camp a success, and has done that each year since. The boot camp is hosted at Christian Brothers Academy each year, and continues to have a high turnout, with participants representing a variety of high schools in the area.
Huber has worked closely with the Zilinski family over the past few years, and is impressed by the amount of work they do to help the people who serve the United States. “They put together a surgical team for a woman, […] they funded a guy to compete in the Paralympics. They do everything imaginable,” Huber said of the Zilinskis. “They took their loss, and they are using it to help people. How could you not support them?”
Hallman found out about the Zilinski Foundation her freshman year by participating in Huber’s boot camp and was inspired to become involved herself. Hallman is in the process of starting her own service project called “Walk A Mile In Their Shoes.” She assisted Huber with the boot camp in the summer and fall of 2018, and will coordinate the event next year after Huber graduates.
“[Because the military is] so close to my heart, I want to raise awareness for it,” Hallman said. “It touched me because my brother goes to West Point and will soon join the Navy SEALs. My grandfather and uncle were also in the military.”
Codispoti discovered the Zilinski Foundation while she was at a Veterans Day assembly in middle school. Since then, she has been attending events and donating to the cause.
“I come from a patriotic family. I’ve been patriotic since I was young,” Codispoti said. “That’s definitely something I want to carry through the generations.”