It's been eleven years since Celeste and Grafton Peterson received an early morning phone call and heard the words no parents ever want to hear. Their daughter Erin, 18, was dead, killed in the worst college tragedy in history, the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.
A freshman at the time, Erin had just graduated from Westfield High School in Chantilly, a Fairfax County Public School whose students came from the nearby communities of Centreville, Chantilly, Oak Hill and parts of Herndon.
After Erin's death, Celeste and Grafton Peterson established a foundation in Erin's name to help other students fulfill their educational dreams since Erin could not. Since 2007, the organization presents scholarships each year not only to Westfield High School students but students in other schools throughout Fairfax and Loudoun counties who meet the criteria.
To date, the Erin Peterson Fund has awarded 103 scholarships and funds enrichment programs at five local schools. The Erin Peterson Fund reports they "are the sole external financial supporter of the extremely successful Young Men's Leadership Group, formerly known as the Boys Leadership Group, at Westfield High School." Peterson has partnered with the group since 2008.
The Petersons established the awards to help ensure student success and to let the students know the Petersons were interested and committed to their future and Erin's legacy. Since the death of her husband, Grafton, in 2016, Celeste Peterson carries on Erin's legacy. The Erin Peterson Fund may be a small nonprofit, but it is making a difference, changing young lives for the better.
The organization is seeking Corporate Sponsorships and donations to help support its mission. It is also selling tickets to its Annual Scholarship Gala held this year on Friday, April 27, 2018. For more information, visit erinpetersonfund.org or email Celeste Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.