When friends saw me casually chatting with basketball Hall of Famer Chris Mullin, they asked me if I personally knew him.
I told them that I did. As a young sports writer, I had covered Mullin on the CYO, CHSAA, and NCAA levels. I always knew he was a great ballplayer but it would have been hard to imagine that he would become an NBA All-Star and Hall of Famer.
Mullin is a product of Catholic schools and that’s why he was the perfect honoree at the diocese’s Futures in Education annual Scholarship Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria on Oct. 2.
Mullin, a superstar in every league he ever played in, has never forgotten where he came from and that was obvious from the enthusiasm that he exhibited while being honored by Futures. He jumped up on the stage and interacted with the Catholic school students as they performed several skits. He tossed plastic basketballs into the crowd of more than 1,100 people. He and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio posed for photos with everyone who wanted a keepsake from the gala event.
Mullin attended St. Thomas Aquinas School, Flatlands; Power Memorial, Manhattan; Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge; and St. John’s University, Jamaica, before moving on to a stellar professional career. When he spoke, he thanked his teachers and coaches and even credited the parish janitor, the late Wally Dean, with helping to mold him into the fine role model that he is today. He also acknowledged his 91-year-old aunt, Sister Terence Mullin, R.S.M,. who attended the dinner with her friend Sister Mary Mercedes, R.S.M..
Futures’ second honoree may not be as well known as Mullin, but he was no less worthy of the accolades showered on him. Bill Hogan, who attended Resurrection School, Gerritsen Beach; Regis H.S. (he wanted to go to Xaverian); and Boston College, is a huge benefactor of the diocese’s parochial schools.
Vice president and general manager of Enterprise sales for NetApp, Hogan is co-founder of the Angels on the Fairway golf outing that benefits the schools and helped resurrect the Futures Scholarship Dinner after it was cancelled in 2007.
Not to be forgotten is mistress of ceremonies, Rosanna Scotto, who also was thanked by Futures. A graduate of Visitation Academy, Bay Ridge, and Catholic University, Washington, D.C., she volunteers her time each year to honor her Brooklyn roots.
The Futures Dinner outdid itself this year. Not only did it honor three outstanding products of diocesan schools, but it also raised a record more than $2 million that will benefit Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens.
While the tuition at one of our Catholic elementary schools averages $3,825, the average household income of Future’s scholarship recipients is less than $27,000.
Future’s “Be An Angel” partnered 570 students with donors who provided half the year’s tuition. The parents paid the other half. And its school-business program helps businesses share resources with struggling schools.
In all, Futures assisted 5,161 students in diocesan schools last year, totalling more than $6 million.
On behalf of all the recipients, members of the Echevarria family were on hand at the dinner to say thank to the benefactors.
For more about Futures in Education, call 718-965-7308.