Thomas Hammerle Memorial Scholarship Endowment:
Taken Too Soon . . . But Remembered Forever…
How can you capture the essence of a little boy?
Words are simply ineffective.
Tom was filled with joy and never hesitated to share it freely. Like most seven-year-old boys, his life revolved around family, friends, play dates, sports, and fun. He loved toy soldiers and trucks, basketball and baseball, swimming and running. His vivid imagination led his sister Sarah and him into incredible adventures.
But things changed. Tom had just started second grade at McAuliffe Elementary School when he was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor that was malignant and inoperable. However, he never let it faze him but instead incorporated his new reality with the old. He found captive audiences among the radiation center staff who listened to his jokes, held wheelchair races down the school hallways, and made new friends everywhere he went.
Through it all, there were so many wonderful expressions of support and love. His classmates helped him at every turn, even planning surprises to make him laugh. They drew pictures that one of the parents made into a quilt that Tom kept on his bed every night. When he came home from one of his many hospital visits, the students had a parade to welcome him home. They named him Student of the Year and gave a big ceremony in his honor at the end of the school year. Tom’s teacher, Ms. Dimitriadis, said she had never seen such a loving class.
Tom graduated from second grade. Then on July 25, 1999, he died in his room at home surrounded by his toys and trophies. The quilt was on his bed.
The love and support shown by the McAuliffe Elementary family – students, families, teachers, and staff – made a profound difference in our lives and the life our little boy. Before Tom died, we had decided to endow a scholarship in Tom’s memory to benefit the children who had attended McAuliffe Elementary School. It was an opportunity for us to give back with an expression of love and remembrance.
Because the Lewisville ISD Education Foundation had been established for just such a purpose, we felt it was the perfect vehicle for creating a memorial to honor Tom’s life. Thus, the Thomas Hammerle Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund was created in the fall of 1999. And since its establishment, we have enjoyed the distinct privilege of touching students lives as they further their educational goals.
We love honoring Tom through this scholarship. However, Tom’s classmates have always held a special place in our hearts, and we wanted a way to honor specifically that select group of McAuliffe Elementary alumni – the ones who supported and loved him, made pictures for him, planned a parade for him, and helped and encouraged him. So at the ten year milestone, which would have been the year that Tom graduated from Marcus High School, we made arrangements with LEF to have a special scholarship available for 20 of Tom’s classmates at their 2009 high school graduation. It was a special honor for us to make those awards.
Although Tom’s life was short-lived, it was a life lived well. The Lewisville ISD Education Foundation gave us an outlet where we could turn grief and loss into a celebration of life.
– Virginia and Pete Hammerle