Recipient Testimonials

Lee Johnson Jr.

“I was the first recipient of the Stephen Chandler Ericson Scholarship Award back in 1985. I was a Senior Captain of the soccer team and was on the field the day Stephen was struck by lightning. I still have the newspaper clippings of that tragic day and think about Stephen often. We were not close friends but I saw him in the hallways on a regular basis and he and my sister were friends. I knew he was going to be “playing up” (meaning they were bringing him up from the JV team to play varsity) that day as Coach Murphy told me. My lasting impression of Stephen was the constant funny grin on his face. I don’t ever remember seeing him without it.

The award was very emotional for me since I knew Stephen. I, like the rest of my teammates that day went through something we will never forget. I am very honored to have received this scholarship since other classmates were just as deserving. I felt a responsibility and an obligation to do something with this scholarship long after college. The generosity of the Ericson family encouraged me to give back as well – for the past 10 years I have given my own scholarship out in remembrance of my Father to a senior graduate of West Chester Christian School and my wife (Barbara) and I have also recently started a foundation to help those in need. Through the tragedy of Stephen’s death, lives were changed for the better through the generosity, faithfulness and love that the Ericson family exhibited in honoring Stephen with this scholarship.”

Please visit Lee’s site at

Matt Murphy

“My dad was a teacher at West Chester Christian and mom was a substitute teacher. We didn’t have a lot of money because they chose to work at a Christian school. Steve’s award meant a lot to me not only as financial aid but also because we were friends. Our families were close growing up and my brother and I enjoyed spending time with him. Steve was always someone I could look up to whether we were hiking, fishing, or just hanging out. I remember being at the game the day of Steve’s tragedy.   Every time I play soccer and it starts to rain I think of Steve and the influence he was. Though he was much older, he gladly spent time with me and my brother. Because of his influence I learned to invest time in the lives of other younger men. This has been very rewarding as two different sets of parents have commented that they appreciate having a godly example in the lives of their sons. I am thankful I was selected for this scholarship as it was beneficial in continuing my education.”

Heather Sadik

“I feel very privileged to receive the Stephen Chandler Ericson Scholarship.  He left a legacy at our school that will not be forgotten.  Even though I was not old enough to personally know Stephen, his story has made an impact on my life.  Stephen’s reaction to the disabled girl he saw in the mall caused me to recognize the positives in people rather than dwell on the negatives.  His testimony exemplifies that life truly is a vapor, and God is the giver and taker of it.  Nothing can stop His plan from being accomplished.”

Noah Sneddon

“God is good, but He works in mysterious ways. He calls his children home as He sees fit, their departure a lasting impression on their families and friends. None was such as tragic as Stephen’s and though I never knew him, I know God’s love shined upon him each and every day until he was called home. I feel like my life is just starting, yet Stephen was two years younger than me when he left his earthly life. This makes me realize how important it is for every one of us to number our days and to live each one as if we could disappear the next. The Ericson’s statement of faith should be an example to us all: they utilized God’s unexpected plan for their son and turned his lasting memory into something great. For that, I am ever so grateful for their generosity in allowing me the privilege of receiving the Stephen Chandler Ericson Scholarship Award this year.”

Micah Murphy

“When I received the Stephen Chandler Ericson Scholarship Award in May of 1996, it was a special gift of remembrance. Maybe it was special because I still remember waiting in the gym on the rainy night that Stephen was struck by lightning. Maybe it was that my father was his coach and that I was uncertain of his well-being. Maybe it was that I played soccer on the very field where God called Stephen home. Or, maybe it was that I remember standing by as he and his friends played basketball outside their garage during one of the parties at the Ericson home that summer. Whatever the reason, this gift of celebrating Stephen’s life is still with me today. Now, I am a father of three children and teaching school as my father once did. I coach Varsity soccer, the youth soccer teams my children are on, and have a summer soccer outreach at my church. When we started the outreach, the first thing that came to my mind was passing out and sharing the tract that was written in Stephen’s honor. The terrifying, yet precious gift of sharing Stephen’s story is personal and one that I share each spring as we start our outreach. This story is something that I still remember and consider each time we head inside during the thunder and lightning; and every time that I am questioned about why my team goes in so quickly, I can share my testimony of Stephen’s life. The Stephen Chandler Ericson Scholarship Award was not just an honor to receive, it was a vivid memory that I can continue to share.”

Samantha Shupe

“I feel unbelievably honored to be receiving the Stephen Chandler Ericson Foundations generous scholarship because as I read the story behind this foundation and its history, I was beyond touched. I can see the hard work and love from Stephens family and friends and the generosity of the West Chester area that has brought forth 30 years of kindness and will hopefully continue for years to come. My hope is that many more learn about this amazing human being and the life he lead. I see through the words and dedication of his family, a bright and warm hearted individual who had a way to see through exteriors and see beauty in everything and everyone. I can only imagine Gods love for him and his family and the great work and love that is being done for our community. I am so incredibly thankful for being chosen to accept the Stephen Chandler Ericson Award and I wish all the best in the continuance of his memory. Thank you.”

Abigail Kosic

“I am so honored and humbled to be receiving this scholarship award. After reading about your inspiring brother, I feel as though I already know him. Every year at Roslyn Swim Club, head coach Jeffery Bott honors your brother’s legacy with an award and gives a detailed speech about his charisma, his friendship, and his everlasting spirit. Being a member of this team for fourteen years and hearing about your brother’s life and connection to my swim coach, it’s truly touching to be receiving an award in his honor. I couldn’t even imagine the impact of losing my own brother, and feel honored to be incorporated into your efforts for spreading his legacy and perspective of the world. Thank you so much again!”

Caitlyn Stratman

“My name is Caitlyn Stratman and I was the 2012 Henderson High School recipient of the Stephen Chandler Ericson Foundation scholarship. This scholarship assisted me in paying for my first year of college at Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA) where I studied music education. I am currently in my first year teaching music to nearly 800 students in grades K-6! Although I did not know Stephen, I feel so honored and humbled to have received a scholarship that embodies his spirit. When I read about Stephen it became very clear to me that he demonstrated remarkable character, love, and understanding. Stephen’s legacy serves as an inspiration for me to hug my loved ones a little closer, to search for the good in people, to strengthen my relationship with God, and to count my blessings. I am sincerely grateful to have been honored with this generous scholarship in memory of such an amazing person. Thank you!”

Christopher Sanchez

My name is Christopher Sanchez and I have lived in West Chester, PA my whole life. I grew up behind the Chester Country Hospital with my two sisters, Julia and Olivia, my mother, Christina Wray, and my stepfather, Bruce Wray III. I was taught through Hillsdale and Peirce Middle school, and finally graduated from Henderson High school.

Henderson already held a place in my heart because my grandfather, Bruce Wray II (my Poppop), taught there for over 30 years. As a little kid, I had visited my Poppop at the “big kid school” many times, but I never knew how great his legacy had become. He was an old-school teacher who wasn’t afraid to voice his opinion. When he passed away in 2006, I realized my sorrow for my Poppop was shared with hundreds of past students, faculty members, and friends of the Henderson community. In the funeral home that day, I saw countless people giving their condolences, including teachers who would eventually teach me at Henderson. I realized the mark my grandfather had left on Henderson, and I promised myself that I would bring the pride and spirit of my grandfather with me in high school.

My love for sports continued into 9th grade, when I played freshman baseball and football. My coaches taught me that even through a lingering back injury, you can find ways to help the team get better. In 10th grade I joined the Warrior Guides foundation, and helped give back to the community while also having a ton of fun with families in Chester. In 11th grade I won the Boys Speaking contest without ever having competed in it before, and I came in 2nd place in the school’s first annual Mythology Bee. In 12th grade I hosted the Mythology Bee played spring hockey for the first time, I founded the first-ever Star Wars club, got sponsored for the homecoming court and was granted the prestigious title of Mr. Henderson. While all these things happened, I know that my Poppop was over my shoulder the whole time. I believe that I tried my hardest to bring all the spirit and joy that I could to the Henderson community.

When I first learned that I had been given the honor of receiving the Stephen Chandler Ericson Scholarship, I was in a hot gymnasium filled with people. My peers were accepting awards left and right, and I knew that I would not been receiving one that day. But in my mind, I knew what I had done for the school, and I knew that I gave 100%  into making my parents, my friends, myself, and my grandfather proud. So when my name was called, giving me a queue to stand and accept the award, I was surprised at first. All I could do was point at my mother and father in the stands, and in my heart, I pointed to my grandfather.

When I came home, I learned more about the foundation and I realized it was more than just money for a poor college student. The memory of Stephen Ericson has lived through the hearts of his family, and has extended to the West Chester community, and eventually to me. I am touched to know that I was nominated by my teachers to receive this award; I am extremely honored that the Ericson family has entrusted me with the memory of Stephen. This award will help me next year as I begin studying at Bloomsburg University, majoring in exercise science. The motto of the foundation is “One life makes a difference…” I have tried my hardest to make a difference, to leave a lasting impression on the people I’ve met, and the places I’ve been. I am grateful for this award, for the foundation, and for Stephen’s family, for nominating me. It is an honor I will carry with me forever. 

Brenna Eadie

My name is Brenna Eadie, and I have lived in West Chester my entire life, recently graduating from Henderson High School. At age five, I followed in my older sister’s footsteps and began dancing at Chester Valley Dance Academy, eventually joining the company and falling in love with the art. Once coming to Henderson, I joined the school musical, stepping outside my comfort zone, participating all four years. My senior year I enrolled in Allied Health, confirming that helping others through medicine was the career path meant for me, leading me to attend Drexel University in the fall for Health Science and Physician Assistant Studies.

When I received the Stephen Chandler Ericson Scholarship, I was unaware of the honor I had been given. Sitting on the football field during graduation, I anxiously waited for the time of receiving our diplomas to come. First however, they gave out awards, announcing student’s names quicker than I could keep up. Suddenly I heard my name announced followed by Stephens name and the scholarship. Finding my family in the crowd I smiled in surprise, assuming I was given an average scholarship like the rest of my peers. I had never been so wrong.

After reading about Stephen’s story and the entire foundation I knew I was now apart of something much larger. Stephen Ericson has touched an entire community, bringing people together to make a difference for years. To be chosen by Stephen’s family and my teachers is truly an honor, and I am so thankful that I have been given the chance to be a part of this foundation. The motto “One life makes a difference…” is one that I will carry with me through my future as I go through school and enter healthcare, as I will remember that what I do, can make a difference in so many other’s lives. Thank you so much for this award and opportunity to carry Stephen’s legacy through this community, and now myself.

Margaret “Maggie” Eberts

“I was honored to receive the Stephen Chandler Ericson scholarship in 2013. As a student-athlete who aspires to care for my community as a physician, I am humbled to be recognized as someone who shares Stephen’s traits of compassion and understanding. Since receiving the scholarship, I have completed my undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College and will begin medical school in the Fall of 2019. Stephen’s legacy serves as an example of love, care and understanding as I work towards my future as a physician. Just as Stephen made a difference in his community and beyond, I hope to make a difference in the lives of my future patients. Thank you!”

Kira Mulhern


“My name is Kira Mulhern, and I am incredibly honored and grateful to be receiving the 2019 Stephen Ericson Memorial scholarship. Throughout my childhood and high school career, I have participated in many school clubs, volunteer organizations, and athletics. Swimming has been a major part of my whole life, and I had the pleasure of being coached by Mr. Jeffrey Bott at Henderson High School and also at Roslyn Swim Club. Each summer, Coach Bott presents an award in honor of Stephen Ericson; and each summer, I am privileged to hear Coach Bott’s telling of Stephen’s story. From a very young age I have been hearing about Stephen’s love for sports, his strong dedication, and his kind, sportsmanlike attitude towards every individual. Last summer, I was honored to have received the Stephen Ericson Memorial Award for Dedication through the Roslyn Swim Club. Today, it is truly touching to receive another award in Stephen’s honor.

Because Stephen’s story has been a part of my life for so long, I have strived to embody the characteristics Stephen continuously demonstrated. While quite dedicated to being a student athlete, I also make strong efforts to give back to our community. Every Sunday, I volunteer as a Sunday School teacher at my church, Christ Community. At school, I am on the board of the Best Buddies club. Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization that pairs students with those struggling with mental and physical disabilities. I was so lucky to have been paired with a fun loving girl named Mackenzie whom I enjoyed spending time with. These small efforts make great memories.

The legacy Stephen left in this community and in me is something I will always hold close to me as I enter into the medical profession. I will remember and exemplify that one life can make a difference in so many others. Thank you for this award as I will use it to continue to honor the life of Stephen Ericson.”

Maya Byrne


“My name is Maya Byrne, and I am extremely honored to be the Henderson High School recipient of the Stephen Chandler Ericson Memorial scholarship. This year has been very hectic with the pandemic, which brought many firsts for students and teachers all around the world. To have my senior year cut short on such short notice was nothing but heartbreaking. Seniors are missing out on all the perks that were supposed to come with our final year of high school, such as prom, the award ceremony, and most importantly, our graduation ceremony. With so much lost there was not much hope or excitement for my official end of my high school career. I patiently sat through the very first ever virtual graduation ceremony with my cap and gown on (trying to make the most of the moment at home) just waiting for the moment when the superintendent of the West Chester Area School District would say that my fellow seniors and I were officially graduates of Henderson High School. However, before this moment could come, the list of scholarship recipients were announced and to my surprise and excitement I had received a scholarship. This announcement truly made my day so much brighter, and made me actually crack a smile for the remainder of the ceremony. The painful memories of what was lost for our class was suddenly dimmed by the idea of my teachers thinking me worthy of such an honorable award.”

“After doing my research and reading all about the meaning behind the scholarship, and what it represents, I was completely humbled by the idea that others were able to see Stephen’s strong characteristics of determination, compassion, and kindness inside of me. I am a passionate student-athlete, but I am mainly driven by the idea of being able to bring joy and happiness into other people’s lives, whether that be through my music, my activities, or my conversations. As Stephen once said to his mother, ‘I hope people notice her beautiful smile’, I always try to go through my day with a smile on my face and a positive attitude in the hopes that it will bring smiles to the faces of others. The impact that Stephen had on the community is something that will inspire me to continue being kind and involved with those around me, with the belief that through kindness I will be able to make a positive impact on the lives around me. Thank you so much for this award and for the opportunity to carry on Stephen’s legacy. I will be forever grateful for this honor and will continue to spread the message that ‘one life makes a difference’.”

The Stephen Chandler Ericson Foundation

"One Life Makes a Difference..."

The Stephen Chandler Ericson Scholarship Fund was founded in 1984 in memory of my beloved brother Stephen who entered Heaven on September 19, 1984 at 6:03pm.