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Fallen Heroes Fund supports education of children of fallen Wilmington firefighters

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The school-age children of Wilmington firefighters Ardythe Hope and Lt. Christopher Leach, who died in the line of duty in the fall, will be able to continue their private school educations, thanks to the Delaware Fallen Heroes Scholarship Fund at the Delaware Community Foundation.

The Delaware Fallen Heroes Scholarship Fund was established in September to provide for the educational expenses of children of Delaware first responders killed or fully disabled in the line of duty. Alan and Ellen Levin seeded the fund with an initial gift of $100,000, and they are encouraging others to contribute.

This week, the fund has awarded its first grants to three Wilmington Catholic schools to support the education of Hope’s and Leach’s children.

Hope and Leach were part of the Wilmington Fire Department team that responded to a row house fire near Canby Park on Sept. 24. Leach, along with Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes, perished when the floor gave way and trapped the two men in the basement. Hope died from her injuries on Dec. 1.

“Ellen and I were moved by the deaths of Wilmington firefighters Ardythe Hope, Lt. Christopher Leach and Jerry Fickes,” Alan Levin said. “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. 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-funded tuition at a Delaware college or university. The Fallen Heroes Scholarship Fund provides support for the children of first responders killed or seriously injured in the line of duty. The fund assists with other educational expenses, such as tuition for private secondary schools or out-of-state colleges. Each year, a committee will review applications from eligible individuals and award grants.

Hope’s two youngest daughters attend St. Elizabeth High School. One of Leach’s daughters attends Padua Academy, and his other daughter attends St. Ann School.

The Fallen Heroes Scholarship Fund has paid the outstanding balances on the Hope and Leach children’s tuition bills and will continue to cover their education expenses through age 24, if needed. To leave the fund with the means to help other children in the future, St. Elizabeth and Padua have generously agreed to accept one-third of the standard tuition for Hope’s and Leach’s children.

“The DCF is pleased to be able to facilitate the Levins’ generosity and leadership in developing this fund to help Delaware children,” DCF President and CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay said. “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.”

To support the Delaware Fallen Heroes Scholarship Fund, give online at or mail your gift to the DCF, P.O. Box 1636, Wilmington, DE 19899. Please write Fallen Heroes Fund in the memo line of your check. The DCF is a 501(c)3 organization, and gifts are fully tax deductible to the extent permitted by the IRS.