By Charlie De Biase, Jr. Staten Island Advance
New Dorp High School’s Daniel Karasinski pulls no punches when describing his impression of a hero.
“A hero, to me, is a person that has made a tremendous impact on your life and (other lives),” Karasinski said. “My hero is courageous, selfless and strong.”
Luckily for Karasinski, his hero is also real. It’s his mother, Joan Karasinski.
Daniel Karasinski’s stirring essay about his mother was one of several reasons he was recently named the 10th annual Robert Curatolo Scholarship Fund (RCSF) winner.
“Being the recipient of this award is a great honor, especially since it’s in honor of a hero like Robert Curatolo,” said the 18-year-old Karasinski, whose father, Tom, is a retired police officer. “I was hoping to get additional money for school and this scholarship will help me a lot. I’m so glad I was selected.”
Curatolo, a lifelong Rosebank resident and New York City firefighter assigned to Ladder 16 in Manhattan, was one of the 343 firefighters who perished in the World Trade Center attack and rescue effort on September 11, 2001. The Curtis HS grad had just ended a 24-hour shift at his midtown firehouse when he raced to the Twin Towers to aid in the rescue effort.
Curatolo played varsity baseball and basketball at Curtis and coached at the high school and grammar school levels for many years.
The scholarship is awarded annually to a high school senior who participates in baseball or softball and has a parent or guardian who is an active or retired city police officer, firefighter or NY/NJ Port Authority police officer. Candidates must be students in good academic standing, display strong personal character and plan on attending college.
The $5,000 scholarship is sent to the college admissions or bursar’s office in the name of the student recipient.
In his essay, Karasinski, who will attend Merrimack College (North Andover, Mass.) on a partial baseball scholarship in the fall, marvels over his mother’s ability to always be there for her four children through good times and bad.
“(My mother’s) mental toughness is made up of intelligence, belief, control and, most importantly, her drive to be the best mom she can be,” said the Midland Beach resident who was also a member of the Central Cougar basketball squad.
“It’s kind of hard to compare my mom to Robert Curatolo,” added Karasinski, who is planning to pitch in college. “But the one thing they have in common is they’re both heroes.”
RCSF committee member Danny Keane, meanwhile, was impressed with the 18-year-old Karasinski’s maturity level.
“In a time when kids (Karasinski’s age) usually pick a sports figure or movie star as their hero, I appreciate the fact (Karasinski) picked his mom,” said Keane. “Being modest is so uncommon these days, I feel.
“But Daniel is truly modest; he has great characteristics that I think someone like Rob would have appreciated.”