Approximately 40 people arrived for dinner at Miceli's to celebrate the two most recent Bradley Stokes Scholarship winners, David Tyrell III and Hunter Urraro.
The Bradley Stokes Scholarship fund was set up by Rebecca Stokes, Bradley Stokes' mother, after her son died in a motorcycle accident May 18, 2012. Rebecca established the fund because she "wanted her son's passion of becoming a firefighter to live on through others who share the same desire."
"Bradley really loved firefighting and he wanted to be a firefighter since he was about 3 years old. When he was 14 he began going to the fire department and participated in the Fire Explorer program where he would do training and field trips," she said. "After graduating from Edison State College, it was around the time when firefighters were being laid off, he joined the Air Force where they had a program to become a firefighter. It took him about a year to get into the Air Force and he was home on leave in May 2012 when the accident occurred."
From left, Hunter Urraro, Rebecca Stokes and David Tyrell.
After the accident, Rebecca spoke with a friend, Stonegate Bank Vice President Elsie Stearns, about setting up a scholarship account. Stearns worked with Rebecca at Winn-Dixie years before where they became close friends.
Once the account was set up, Stokes visited Fire Chief Bradley and Deputy Chief Joe Marzella.
"Joe had been a mentor to my son," Rebecca said.
The first recipient was selected two years ago by Chief Bradley and Deputy Chief Marzella. Tyrell and Urraro are the third and fourth recipients of the scholarship.
Tyrrell, 21, was selected as one of two recipients of the scholarship to attend fire school beginning Aug. 11.
"I graduated from Mariner High School and then went to Florida State for three years," Tyrell said. "My father has been in the fire service for 35 years the last 18 here on Pine Island. This is an opportunity for me to follow in my fathers footsteps and I would love to work on Pine Island."
Urraro, 20, is from Cape Coral.
"I first did the fire academy at Baker High School and that experience gave me a little taste of it," Urraro said. "Then I went to visit the academy and spoke with Tracy McMillion, the fire academy director. He is the one that told me about the scholarship and I applied and was accepted. I've always liked helping people and I think this is what I'd like to make a career of."
Requirements to enter Fire School are: at least 18 years old, have no felony convictions or misdemeanor convictions involving moral turptitude, standard high school diploma or G.E.D., be of good moral character, passed a physical exam by doctor (EKG included), possess a valid Florida drivers license, proof of hospitalization/medical insurance (school insurance is available), submit fingerprints, pass a drug screen test, submit copies of TABE scores, be affiliated or become affiliated with an active fire department, possess a current CPR card.
"Bradley was a true 'island boy' and loved traveling, hiking and boating," Rebecca said. "From the time Bradley was about 3 years old, he always said he wanted to be a fireman. He spent 4 years as a Fire Explorer and after graduating from Mariner High School he received his certification as a firefighter and EMT. When he was unable to find a firefighting job he joined the Air Force. I knew he would be happy there especially when I found out he would be stationed in Hawaii. Sadly he never got to serve there. It was when he was home on leave that the accident occurred. Sometimes I envision him there in Hawaii doing all of the things he talked about doing; biking, hiking, diving and having his adventures."
One of the last things Bradley posted on his Facebook page: "Every man receives the same amount of time; what he chooses to do with it is entirely up to him."
Contributions to the Bradley Stokes Memorial Fund may be made at StoneGate Bank, Pine Island Office; see Elsie Stearns.