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New Jersey Hall of Fame Announces 50 Nominees for 2018 Public Vote

The New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) has announced 50 nominees in five categories for its Class of 2018: Arts & Letters, Enterprise, Performing Arts, Public Service, and Sports. Public voting is now underway online.

The 11th class of inductees will be announced in January, and the induction ceremony will take place in May of 2019.

“Since 2008, we have inducted a broad spectrum of New Jersey heroes into the Hall of Fame,” said Jon F. Hanson, chairman of the NJHOF. “This year’s class of nominees strongly reflect the diverse backgrounds and accomplishments that have characterized the hall of fame since its inception.”

“We’re honored to carry on our longstanding tradition of promoting the best that New Jersey has to offer,” said Steve Edwards, president of the NJHOF. “I’m continuously amazed by the wealth of role models that our state produces, and proud that we have the opportunity to bring recognition to those who truly deserve it.”

The public is encouraged to visit the NJ Hall of Fame website to cast their vote for a nominee in each of the five categories listed below. Full biographies of the nominees, as well as online voting, can be found here.

ARTS & LETTERS

Peter Benchley, author and ocean activist, known for writing the novel “Jaws”; Stephen Crane, author of “Red Badge of Courage”; Joyce Kilmer, journalist and poet, author of Trees; Fran Lebowitz, author, known for social commentary on American life; Anne Morrow Lindbergh, author, aviator, and wife of aviator Charles Lindbergh; George R.R. Martin, author, best known for his series of epic fantasy novels, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” later adapted into the television series “Game of Thrones”; John Forbes Nash, Jr., mathematician and fundamental contributor to game theory, differential geometry and the study of partial differential equations; George Segal, actor, nominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for performance in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”; Gay Talese, writer, penned famous articles about Joe DiMaggio and Frank Sinatra; and Timothy White, photographer of celebrities ranging from Julia Roberts to Outkast.

ENTERPRISE

Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef, author, and travel documentarian, starred in programs focusing on the exploration of international culture and cuisine; James E. Burke, CEO of Johnson & Johnson; Leonard S. Coleman, Jr., last president of baseball’s National League; J. Fletcher Creamer, Sr., chief executive officer of J. Fletcher Creamer & Son, Inc.; Fred Morgan Kirby, served as chairman and chief executive of the Alleghany Corporation, transformed company’s specialty from railroad holdings to insurance and investment; Tim McLoone, founder and president of Holiday Express; Denise Morrison, former president and chief executive officer of Campbell Soup Company; Dr. Victor Parsonnet, cardiac surgeon who contributed significantly to the evolution of cardiac pacemaking; Mary G. Roebling, first woman to serve as president of a major U.S. bank; Arthur F. Ryan, businessman and first outsider to become chief executive officer of Prudential Insurance; and George R. Zoffinger, president and chief executive officer of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

PERFORMING ARTS

Danny Aiello, actor, earned nomination for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in “Do the Right Thing”; Jason Alexander, actor, known for his role as George Costanza in the television series “Seinfeld”; Peter Dinklage, actor, portrays Tyrion Lannister on the television series “Game of Thrones”; Whoopi Goldberg, actress, comedian, television host, and won an Emmy Award, a Grammy Award, an Academy Award, and a Tony Award; Anne Hathaway, actress, winner of Academy Award for Best Actress for role in “Les Misérables”; Ed Harris, three-time nominee for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in “Apollo 13,” “The Truman Show,” and “The Hours”; Chris Rock, comedian, actor, winner of four Emmy Awards and three Grammy Awards; Patti Smith, singer-songwriter, poet, fused rock and poetry in work; The Smithereens, rock band that has headlined New Jersey stages from the Meadowlands Arena to the State Theatre; and Phoebe Snow, singer, songwriter, and guitarist, known for 1975 song “Poetry Man.”

PUBLIC SERVICE

Samuel Alito, Jr., Associate Justice of the Supreme Court; Elizabeth Almira Allen, teachers’ rights advocate, first woman president of the New Jersey Education Association; Virginia Apgar, obstetrical anesthesiologist, inventor of the Apgar score; Alfred Driscoll, 43rd governor of New Jersey, former Republican New Jersey senator representing Camden County, and president of Warner-Lambert; Louis Freeh, attorney and former judge who served as the fifth director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Milton Friedman, economist, winner of 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, advisor to President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; Antonin Scalia, former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, was longest-serving Justice on the Court; Richard Stockton, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Associate Justice of the State Supreme Court and namesake of Stockton University; Paul Volcker, economist, chairman of the Federal Reserve under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan; and Theodore V. “Ted” Wells, attorney, partner at the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, represents range of high-profile clients.

SPORTS

Rick Barry, named one of the 50 Greatest Players in History by the NBA; G. Harry Carson, New York Giants star inside linebacker, helped the Giants win Super Bowl XXI; Gerry Cooney, former star professional boxer; Anne Donovan, women’s basketball player and coach, won two Olympic gold medals, first woman to coach a WNBA Championship Team; Laurie Hernandez, gymnast, winner of two Olympic medals in 2016 Summer Olympics; Jerry Izenberg, sports journalist with The Newark Star- Ledger, known for covering many memorable sporting events and figures of the late Twentieth century; John McMullen, sports columnist for GetMoreSports.com, NFL Insider for ESPN South Jersey; Bart Oates, football player for the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers, three-time Super Bowl champion, five-time Pro Bowler; David Stern, former commissioner of the NBA; and Paul Tagliabue, former commissioner of the NFL.

N.J. Hall of Fame breaks ground for home at American Dream

The New Jersey Hall of Fame took a big step toward establishing a permanent home of its own recently.

That’s when the Hall of Fame family, New Jersey elected officials, executives from American Dream and Triple Five Worldwide and other dignitaries took part in the ceremonial groundbreaking for a museum that will honor many of the Garden State’s best and brightest.

“The New Jersey Hall of Fame has an exciting vision,” said Jon F. Hanson, chairman of the NJHOF, “and ultimately this museum will be a very proud attraction for New Jerseyans of all ages and families around the world that will be able to experience it in all its greatness.”

The Hall of Fame, which celebrated its 10th anniversary with a gala induction ceremony in May, to date has used a mobile museum as its home (850 square feet). To be located on the lower level of the American Dream retail and entertainment complex, the permanent museum will cover 16,000 square feet and feature attractions such as a virtual reality theater and hologram theater. It’s planned opening is to take place in the summer of 2020.

“This is a great day for all New Jerseyans, said Steve Edwards, Hall of Fame president. “The New Jersey Hall of Fame at American Dream will be an exciting museum where we can take great pride in who we are as a people, and have a learning center that will inspire the next generation of Jersey leaders.”

The state-of-the-art museum is expected to cost $10 million, of which the Hall of Fame has raised $5.775 million. The cost of admission to the museum is to be determined.

The NJHOF home will be located within several minutes of many attractions at American Dream, including Legoland Discovery Center and Sealife Aquarium, a DreamWorks Water Park, a Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, Cirque de Soleil and KidZania. An estimated 40 million are expected to visit the American Dream complex annually. The Hall of Fame has entered into a long-term lease at American Dream. Terms were not disclosed.

New Jersey Hall of Fame Finds
Permanent Home at American Dream

 

The New Jersey Hall of Fame – home to many of the Garden State’s best and brightest – now will have a home to call its own.|

The Hall of Fame, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary with a gala induction ceremony, to date has used a mobile museum as its home. The permanent home will be part of the American Dream retail and entertainment complex, which is scheduled to open in the spring of 2019.

The groundbreaking for the new home is to take place Wednesday, Sept. 26, at the New Jersey Hall of Fame Mobile Museum (located on the east side of the Arena (former IZOD Center) and in close proximity to the new museum location). The event gets underway at 11 a.m. (EDT).

“I am deeply excited that American Dream will become the New Jersey Hall of Fame’s permanent home,” says Governor Murphy. “New Jerseyans will learn about the distinguished inductees, who will inspire residents to be the next generation of New Jersey leaders.”

Don Ghermezian, President of American Dream, says, “We are very proud to be the new home for The New Jersey Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame museum will be a state-of-the-art facility that will showcase the incredible contributions and outstanding achievements of so many inspiring individuals that have called New Jersey their home. The Hall of Fame will complement and enhance our property’s exceptional offering of entertainment, performing arts, culinary and retail experiences that will draw over 40 million visitors annually.”

Jon F. Hanson, the Hall of Fame’s chairman of the board, adds: “We are beyond excited to have a place to call home, and thrilled that it will be at American Dream. We are proud of the rich and important contributions our inductees have made to New Jersey and beyond, and our new home will allow us to showcase our state to so many more people.”

“The NJHOF leadership thanks our founders and family of supporters for helping us to create one of the ultimate symbols of Jersey pride,” Steve Edwards, president of the New Jersey Hall of Fame. “This exciting new attraction and learning center will have an immeasurable impact on the pride of New Jerseyans, and will help inspire its visitors to realize their highest and best sense of self, with a moral excellence of character.”

Baseball standout Al Leiter is among those scheduled to attend the Sept. 26 groundbreaking. “I’m grateful and proud of the honor that my HOF induction and legacy will be showcased alongside all the other New Jersey Hall of Famers at this fantastic new museum home at American Dream,” says Leiter.

The New Jersey Hall of Fame permanent museum will be located within several minutes of many attractions at American Dream, including Legoland Discovery Center and Sealife Aquarium, a DreamWorks Water Park, a Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, Cirque de Soleil and KidZania. An estimated 40 million are expected to visit the American Dream complex annually. The Hall of Fame has entered into a long-term lease at American Dream. Terms were not disclosed.

In addition to officials and founders from the Hall of Fame, dignitaries expected to attend the Sept. 26 groundbreaking include NJHOF inductees, elected officials from state, county and local governments, executives from American Dream developer Triple Five and business and labor leaders.

New Jersey Hall of Fame Gala is Sold Out

No tickets are left for the New Jersey Hall of Fame’s 10th annual ceremony Sunday, May 6, at the Paramount Theatre on the famed Jersey Shore boardwalk. Fans who want to view the event via live-streamed can go to www.facebook.com/NJ.com/ and “like” the page. Followers will receive notification as to when the feed is live.

“We have astronauts, sports greats, rock stars, business titans and other icons of our great state being inducted,” says Steve Edwards, New Jersey Hall of Fame president. “We are pleased to announce that we are sold out for another year. It’s no surprise, considering this latest class of distinguished New Jerseyans who have reached the pinnacle of their respective fields.”

The induction will feature surprise and celebrity presenters, and music by Hall of Fame inductee Tommy James and surprise performers. The house band will be led by New Jersey’s own Glen Burtnik (formerly of Styx).

The New Jersey Hall of Fame 2017 Class is: (all living inductees are scheduled to attend.)

ARTS & LETTERS: Author Harlan Coben, author/journalist Anna Quindlen.

ENTERPRISE: Real estate executive Jon Hansonpublishing executive Steve Forbes, businessman Joe Buckelewcelebrity chef Cake Boss Buddy Valastro.

PERFORMING ARTS: , musician/actor Steven Van ZandtThe Four Seasons, including Frankie ValliBob GaudioTommy DeVitoNick Massi and Joe Long; singer Gloria Gaynor, singer-songwriter Debbie Harry of the band Blondie.

PUBLIC SERVICE: Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly, nurse Clara Maass, politician Millicent Fenwick.

SPORTS: Former Major League Baseball pitcher Al Leiter, soccer’s Carli Lloyd.

Actress Meryl Streep, who was scheduled to be inducted, is unable to attend due to a last-minute production conflict as part of her role in the HBO series “Big Little Lies.”

Also going into the Hall of Fame on May 6 will be this year’s Unsung Hero, which is to be announced next week.

“Along with our well-known inductees, we are proud to once again induct an Unsung Hero and to honor two New Jersey high school students as our essay winners,” says Edwards. “And look for surprise musical performances.”

The NJHOF on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NewJerseyHallOfFame/

Carli Lloyd to be inducted into New Jersey Hall of Fame

Tickets on sale March 22 for 10th annual induction gala in Asbury Park

Soccer superstar Carli Lloyd is to be inducted by New Jersey Hall of Fame at its 10th annual ceremony Sunday, May 6, at the Paramount Theatre on the famed Jersey Shore boardwalk.

A native of Delran in Burlington County and a former Rutgers star, Lloyd will join 16 other standouts on stage at the 10th Annual Induction Ceremony. She previously was selected for induction but was unable to attend that year. Thus, Lloyd will be so honored this time.

 Tickets, ranging from $35 to $100 each, go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 22.

All living inductees are scheduled to attend the ceremony at the Paramount, which is part of the Asbury Park Convention Hall complex. Musician Tommy James, who was inducted last year, is slated to perform May 6.

“The NJHOF 10th anniversary induction ceremony is shaping up to be our most exciting ceremony yet,” says Steve Edwards, New Jersey Hall of Fame president. “We look forward to honoring 17 more distinguished New Jerseyans who have reached the pinnacle of their respective fields.”

The NJHOF inductees to be honored at the 10th annual induction ceremony are:

  • ARTS & LETTERS: Author Harlan Coben, author/journalist Anna Quindlen.
  • ENTERPRISE: Real estate executive Jon Hanson, publishing executive Steve Forbes, businessman Joe Buckelew, celebrity chef Cake Boss Buddy Valastro.
  • PERFORMING ARTS: Musician/actor Steven Van Zandt, The Four Seasons, including Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and Joe Long; singer Gloria Gaynor, singer-songwriter Debbie Harry of the band Blondie.
  • PUBLIC SERVICE: Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly, nurse Clara Maass, politician Millicent Fenwick.
  • SPORTS: Former Major League Baseball pitcher Al Leiter,  soccer’s Carli Lloyd.
  • UNSUNG HERO: To be announced in April.

New Jersey Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2017

The New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) announces the 16 newest inductees it will honor at this year’s Induction Ceremony on May 6th, 2018, at the historic Convention Hall in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The distinguished Class of 2017 currently includes:

  • ARTS & LETTERS: Author Harlan Coben and author and journalist Anna Quindlen.
  • ENTERPRISE: Real Estate executive Jon Hanson, publishing executive Steve Forbes, businessman Joe Buckelew, and celebrity chef Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro.
  • PERFORMING ARTS: Actress Meryl Streep, musician and actor Steven Van Zandt, the band The Four Seasons including members Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and Joe Long, singer Gloria Gaynor, and singer-songwriter Debbie Harry of the band BLONDIE.
  • PUBLIC SERVICE: Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly, nurse Clara Maass and politician Millicent Fenwick.
  • SPORTS: Major League Baseball player Al Leiter and, Olympic soccer player Carli Lloyd.
  • UNSUNG HERO: To be announced in April.

“Induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame is the highest civilian honor that our State can bestow on someone. It’s a celebration of New Jersey that inspires the next generation of New Jersey leaders. Our inductees remind us how so many of our citizens have transformed the world, and how proud we should be of that fact as New Jerseyans,” said Governor Phil Murphy.

All living inductees are expected to attend the 2017 Induction Ceremony; a friend or family member will represent inductees who are no longer with us. The New Jersey Hall of Fame may select additional inductees based on their availability for the ceremony.

“Our May 6th induction ceremony is the NJHOF’s 10th-anniversary celebration, and former inductees will help us to induct this year’s class. It will be an inspiring ceremony, with lots of surprises,” said Steve Edwards, NJHOF Foundation Board President.

The official 2017 Public Vote Ballot contained 50 nominees – 10 in each of five categories: Arts & Letters, Enterprise, Performance Arts, Public Service and Sports. The public voting, along with input from the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees, determined this year’s class. More information about the selection process and the “Recommend a Nominee” is on the NJHOF website.

NJHOF will also recognize the recipients of the third annual Arête Scholarship on stage at the Induction Ceremony. Named for the Greek concept of “Arête” meaning the realization of one’s highest potential, these $5,000 scholarships are awarded to New Jersey high school seniors to help them achieve their potential. Students can apply for these generous scholarships online at www.NJHallofFame.org/arete before the deadline on March 17, 2018. The NJHOF presents The Arête Scholarship in partnership with the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA).

New Jersey Hall of Fame Exhibition Coming to Newark Airport

The New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) announces plans for a state-of-the-art exhibition of its inductees at Newark Liberty International Airport starting in 2018.  Highlighting the lives of inductees through posters, videos and five hologram units, the exhibition is designed to inspire people to pursue the full potential of their own lives.

Holograms in both Terminals B and C will feature NJHOF inductees such as astronaut Mark Kelly and international recording artist Wyclef Jean and prompt airport patrons to learn more through questions and recorded answers. The exhibition in Terminal B will include video monitors and a poster campaign.

“New Jersey Hall of Fame inductees, people who we are most proud of in this state, have made significant and vitally important contributions to our state’s quality of life, our society in general and to the world,” said Governor Christie. “This new exhibition will welcome domestic and international travelers to our State, giving them the opportunity to learn more about who we are in New Jersey and our state’s history, and it will further instill a sense of Jersey Pride for all New Jersey residents.

“Newark Liberty Airport is an essential economic engine for the Garden State, generating thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity. This new cultural enhancement is just another step in our efforts to ensure the airport has the most advanced, up-to-date terminals to meet the needs of modern-day travelers.”

Installation of the exhibition will take place throughout 2018 starting with two hologram units this December and three additional by the end of March along with the poster campaign.  Video monitors will be installed by the Spring and the wall of fame by the Fall.

“This remarkably innovative exhibition aligns perfectly with the Port Authority’s commitment to modernize and improve its facilities and provide customers with a world-class customer experience,” said Kevin O’Toole, Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “We’re excited to welcome visitors to New Jersey with the inspiring lives of our Hall of Fame inductees.”

“This NJ Hall of Fame satellite exhibition is the first in a series of exciting announcements planned for the months ahead,” observed Jon Hanson, NJHOF Capital Campaign Chairman.

“This exhibition will encourage children and adults alike to follow the examples of our inductees and become the best they can be,” added NJHOF Chairman Emeritus John Keegan. “It will also make Jersey proud.”

“New Jersey Hall of Fame at Newark Airport is a satellite museum outpost that will feature the latest in cutting-edge technology, and will help to distinguish New Jersey as the state whose citizens have made enormous contributions to mankind,” concluded Steve Edwards, Chairman of NJHOF Board of Trustees.

NJ Hall of Fame Exhibit Opening at Newark Airport

The New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) announces plans for a state-of-the-art exhibition of its inductees at Newark Liberty International Airport starting in 2018. Highlighting the lives of inductees through posters, videos, and five hologram units, the exhibition is designed to inspire people to pursue the full potential of their own lives.

Holograms in both Terminals B and C will feature NJHOF inductees such as astronaut Mark Kelly and international recording artist Wyclef Jean and prompt airport patrons to learn more through questions and recorded answers. The exhibition in Terminal B will include video monitors and a poster campaign.

“New Jersey Hall of Fame inductees, people who we are most proud of in this state, have made significant and vitally important contributions to our state’s quality of life, our society in general and to the world,” said Governor Christie. “This new exhibition will welcome domestic and international travelers to our State, giving them the opportunity to learn more about who we are in New Jersey and our state’s history, and it will further instill a sense of Jersey Pride for all New Jersey residents.

“Newark Liberty Airport is an essential economic engine for the Garden State, generating thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity. This new cultural enhancement is just another step in our efforts to ensure the airport has the most advanced, up-to-date terminals to meet the needs of modern-day travelers.”

Installation of the exhibition will take place throughout 2018 starting with two hologram units this December and three additional by the end of March along with the poster campaign. Video monitors will be installed by the Spring and the wall of fame by the Fall.

“This remarkably innovative exhibition aligns perfectly with the Port Authority’s commitment to modernize and improve its facilities and provide customers with a world-class customer experience,” said Kevin O’Toole, Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “We’re excited to welcome visitors to New Jersey with the inspiring lives of our Hall of Fame inductees.”

“This NJ Hall of Fame satellite exhibition is the first in a series of exciting announcements planned for the months ahead,” observed Jon Hanson, NJHOF Capital Campaign Chairman.

“This exhibition will encourage children and adults alike to follow the examples of our inductees and become the best they can be,” added NJHOF Chairman Emeritus John Keegan. “It will also make Jersey proud.”

“New Jersey Hall of Fame at Newark Airport is a satellite museum outpost that will feature the latest in cutting- edge technology, and will help to distinguish New Jersey as the state whose citizens have made enormous contributions to mankind,” concluded Steve Edwards, Chairman of NJHOF Board of Trustees.

Video credit:  Gary Gellman/ Gellman Images

Sue and Ed Goldstein, Founders of The Valerie Fund Win Unsung Hero Award

Sue and Ed Goldstein, founders of The Valerie Fund, have been selected as the 2016 recipients of the New Jersey Hall Of Fame (NJHOF) Unsung Hero Award.

The Unsung Hero Award was presented at the formal induction ceremony on May 7, at Convention Hall in Asbury Park, N.J., by previous Unsung Heroes Lt. Brian Brennan and Eric LeGrand.

The award recognizes New Jersey’s local heroes, people who are game-changers but are not typically recognized for their work in improving the lives of people in our great state. Nominations are made by the general public, NJOH chooses 5 finalists, and the winners are selected by prior Unsung Hero recipients.  Previous recipients include first responders injured in the line of duty, Holocaust educators and others who have overcome obstacles to accomplish great things and make a difference in their communities.

“There are so many inspirational individuals in our state who don’t seem to receive the recognition they deserve. The Unsung Hero Award was established as a way for these difference-makers to be recognized publically, and to establish their rightful place among the state’s most honored celebrities,” said Bart Oates, NJHOF Board Member.

Sue and Ed Goldstein, longtime New Jersey residents, suffered an unthinkable tragedy not once, but twice: losing both their daughters to cancer.  In the face of their grief, the Goldsteins used their losses to help others, creating programs in the wake of each daughter’s passing.  Their extraordinary efforts over the past 40 years resulted in the creation of The Valerie Fund and The Stacy Goldstein Breast Cancer Center at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.  Both organizations continue to provide hope and life-saving treatment for thousands of people.

“We are deeply honored by our induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. This award represents all that The Valerie Fund has accomplished in helping children and their families in their battle to defeat pediatric cancer and blood disorders within our Valerie Fund Children’s Centers,” said the Goldsteins.

The Valerie Fund, based in Maplewood, N.J., started in 1976 in the living room of the Goldsteins’ home after their nine-year-old daughter Valerie died of cancer.  They were determined that no family should have to travel great distances to receive superior medical care and began a fundraising crusade which led to the opening of the first pediatric oncology facility in New Jersey at Summit’s Overlook Hospital in 1977.  Today, The Valerie Fund features a network of seven hospital-based outpatient facilities, six of which are in New Jersey, and provides access to compassionate care for thousands of children battling cancer and blood disorders.

“The Goldsteins are authentic heroes, the kind of people we should look up to every day,” said Steve Edwards, President of the New Jersey Hall of Fame Foundation.  “When confronted with tragedy and adversity, they had a choice as to what to do with their grief, and they chose to help others and have continued to do so every day since the 1970s.  That is incredible and why we are so proud to present Sue and Ed with the NJHOF Unsung Hero Award and showcase their inspiring story and contributions to the community through The Valerie Fund.”

The Unsung Hero Award was developed in 2009 to recognize a true American hero, Lieutenant Brian Brennan. Lt. Brennan, along with three other soldiers and a civilian, were the victims of two improvised explosive device (IED) attacks. Although he suffered from life-threatening injuries, Lt. Brennan miraculously awoke from his coma and has made an incredible recovery. The 2009 Unsung Hero award was presented to Lt. Brennan by General David T. Petraeus, a moment no-one in the audience will ever forget. The award has since recognized major influencers such as paralyzed former Rutgers football star Eric LeGrand and Expect to Win author Carla Harris.

Batista and Davern win 2017 NJHOF Arête Scholarship

Christina E. Batista

Two outstanding seniors from Manchester Township High School in Manchester, N.J., have been selected as the 2017 recipients of the Arête Scholarship.  Christina Batista and John Davern were recognized for their accomplishments during the New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) Induction Ceremony on May 7, at Convention Hall in Asbury Park, N.J.

This is the second year that the New Jersey Hall of Fame has partnered with the New Jersey Education Association to present the Arête Scholarship, which awards each recipient a $5,000 scholarship.  Arête is an ancient Greek term that means, “reaching your highest human potential.”  The scholarship recognizes and rewards students who strive to pursue their passions in life, overcome the obstacles along the way and achieve their highest sense of self.

“The recipients of these scholarships exhibit a sense of Jersey pride, and the willingness to go above and beyond. They show academic engagement, moral character and a commitment to their community,” said Steve Edwards, President of the NJHOF Foundation Board. “These students truly demonstrate focus in school and life, and have a well thought out plan on how they intend to succeed in the future.”

“It is truly an honor to be selected,” said John Davern, “but what is more amazing is that two students from the same high school were both selected for this prestigious award.” Christina Batista added, “I am really happy we got to put Manchester on the map.”

John Davern

Both are nervous about being a part of the New Jersey Hall of Fame Ceremony which will feature the induction of: Kelly Ripa, Carol Higgins Clark, Connie Chung, Ray Liotta, Tommy James, Wyclef  Jean, Rosey Grier, Chuck Wepner, Carol Blazejowski, Alfred Koeppe, Arthur Imperatore, Sr., Peace Pilgrim, and Philip Kearny.

“Honestly, it is a little scary, but it will be exciting to be on stage with all those amazing people,” said Davern.

“I am so excited and honored to be a part of this community and to see the excellence that is happening in the state. I am really blown away!”  said Batista.

Davern, age 17, is an avid sports fan, athlete and honor student. He is senior class president and is actively involved in Student Government.  In addition to maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average, he has achieved MVP status on the Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, and Cross Country Teams. Being involved in the local community is also important to Davern, who mentors middle school students about issues such as bullying and drugs/alcohol as part of the Heroes and Cool Kids Club. He also coaches Manchester Little League.

“Seeing things from the coach’s perspective really gave me new insight,” said Davern. “When I was young, I thought I was just learning how to play the sport.  I didn’t realize the coaches were actually teaching us skills like teamwork, communication, and leadership.  I like being able to pass that on to the kids.”

Davern plans to attend Lock Haven University this fall to study Sports Management. He also aspires to write a sports blog for a sports network or print publication.  His ultimate goal is to work for NASCAR in management or marketing.

“This scholarship will allow me to focus on my school work and to spend more time getting involved with the college community,” he said. “I didn’t know what Arête meant until I started researching it, and it really opened my eyes. To live with Arête is the knowledge that you can and will be successful – if you want to be successful; which is something I have followed my whole life.”

Batista, age 17, is an outgoing honors student who loves the performing arts. She is secretary of the National Honor Society and proudly notes that she has performed in every Drama Club production over the past four years. She is also a featured member and section leader of the Cantante Honors Choir.  Batista’s other passions include volunteering and working with young people.

She volunteers as a mentor in the Heroes and Cool Kids Club and serves as a teacher’s assistant for Religious Education Programs at St. Johns Roman Catholic Church in Lakehurst, N.J. She also assists children with reading as a library tutor at the Ocean County Library.

“It is wonderful to help youth grow and learn and to teach them invaluable skills. At the library I taught children how to read and to see them flourish is really amazing,” said Batista, who also volunteers for the American Red Cross school blood drive. “It is always important to give back.  I volunteer because I want to make my community a better place.”

Batista said she wasn’t familiar with the term Arête before applying for the scholarship, but found that it describes the essence of who she is. “The concept is something that has been passed down in my family from my grandparents to my parents to me. It means being a passionate, focused individual that works hard to achieve success, and I believe I exemplify those qualities,” she noted.

Batista plans to study business administration and marketing at the Silberman College of Business at Fairleigh Dickinson University this fall. “I see myself as a future leader of a Fortune 500 company, taking my place among the ranks of other accomplished women who have broken through the glass ceiling.”

According to Edwards, the New Jersey Hall of Fame was created to honor the Garden State’s most distinguished citizens, people who are powerful role models, especially for the young people in our state.

“This scholarship is important for us to be involved with because the NJHOF is dedicated to serving as a source of inspiration and motivation for young people to strive for, and to achieve, excellence in any endeavor they pursue,” said Edwards.