EMERSON, N.J. -- For the very first time, an Emerson non-profit group that awards scholarships in memory of a popular athlete who died in 2000 has included a Park Ridge High School senior with its two Emerson recipients.
Josh Lewis received his from the Eric Ayala Memorial Foundation during a special ceremony last Wednesday at Park Ridge High School.
The two Emerson recipients get theirs on June 22.
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."
Before expanding to include Park Ridge this year, the foundation provided scholarships to a boy and girl from Emerson who fit the criteria.