“Gone But Never Forgotten.”
That sentiment was literally worn on the backs of hundreds who came out last summer, candles in hand, tears streaking their faces, for a somber to honor 2010 grads and , who had been .
With the teens’ memories still fresh, the Coombs family, at , shared that they were in the process of establishing the Edward Taylor Coombs Foundation, which has since been granted 501c3 nonprofit status, according to Coombs’ older sister, Erin.
“It’s a true testament to our family. We’ve always been going, going, going,” Erin Coombs told Patch, adding that she and her family were not ready to let his memory die. “This can not be the end of Edward. This cannot be the end of his name. His goal was to give back and make a better world.”
And, nearly a year after his untimely death, the Coombs family is giving back in the 19-year-old’s name.
The Foundation will be awarding scholarships to all 15 Hatboro-Horsham High School graduates who had applied for consideration, according to Edward’s father, Eric, a former school board member. The top two will receive $5,000 each, another will receive $2,500 and all of the others will receive $500 toward books, he said.
Two $2,000 scholarships have been reserved for Edward’s girlfriend of two years, Jackie DiPietro and Nagel’s younger brother, Connor. , the teens organized a , which raised the bulk of the scholarship money, Eric Coombs said.
The top three scholarship winners – , Carey Johnson and Gabrielle Viscounte – will be honored at the Foundation’s first-ever golf outing tonight, the Coombs family said.
Erin Coombs said the scholarship committee based its picks on specific criteria, including students’ academic success, community service, recommendations from two teachers, as well as two essays, a resume and five-year goals.
“It was a little bit of an intense application for some people,” she said, adding that it was also important that candidates “reflect Edward and how he was as a student.”
The ever-smiling Eddie Coombs was a standout in lacrosse, track, soccer and football, as well as in the classroom. Eric Coombs recalled his senior graduation project, a six-day trip to Washington D.C. to participate in the National Youth Leadership Forum on Law and Crime Scene Investigations.
“He knew he wanted to go to law school,” Mr. Coombs said. “They take a case from the crime scene all the way to the Supreme Court.”
The program led to an internship at the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office, where he was working at the time of his death.
In tribute to his son’s success with the National Youth Leadership Forum, Mr. Coombs said the Foundation offered a $2,600 scholarship to Danielle Hodges to attend the program in Philadelphia for medical studies.
Edward Coombs had finished his freshman year at Marist College in the months following his death. Even though he was only there for a brief time, and was chosen as freshman of the year, his father said.
Mr. Coombs said the Foundation is awarding a $5,000 a year scholarship to Marist College for the top-recruited freshman.
In all, the Foundation is providing more than $25,000 in scholarships to Hatboro-Horsham High School graduates. And, even more is planned for subsequent years, the family said.
“The Foundation is growing so quickly,” Erin Coombs said, noting that scholarships may be offered to kids outside of Hatboro-Horsham High School in the future. “Edward was involved in a lot of things in Montgomery County, not just Horsham. There’s a lot of people that could benefit.”
Two fundraising events are planned already, a Sept. 22 5K run at Hatboro-Horsham High School and a yet-to-be-set fall ball tournament, she said. Even without those events, the Foundation expects to generate about $40,000 from today’s sold out golf outing and dinner at .
Mr. Coombs said 34 foursomes will compete and more than 240 people will share a meal.
“Every day we’re just shocked and amazed,” Erin Coombs said. “People really have been turning out.”
The golf outing, for instance, generated enough interest from golfers that friends and family had to be “bumped” from participating, Erin Coombs said. And, that’s okay.
“We want to keep the longevity and keep going,” she said.
Because, like the T-shirts the mourning teens wore in remembrance of Edward Coombs and Robert Nagel, the teens may be gone, but they will never be forgotten.
How you can help