New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie and New Jersey Heroes, awarded a Spirit of a Hero scholarship award to Zachary Certner from Morristown High School.
Certner co-founded a non-profit foundation called SNAP (Special Needs Athletic Programs) that provides free athletic and social programs to special needs children and their families.
“I was disturbed seeing kids excluded from sports, lunch tables, and even friendships just because they were different,” Certner told Business Wire. “Since sports have always been a passion of mine, I felt strongly about giving every child the opportunity to be part of a team.”
"The rewards culminate at the end of the year when we’re giving out trophies and we see the smiles on kids’ faces because they don’t ordinarily have this opportunity," he said to Teen Life.
He has also newly founded Empathy Training, an anti-bullying and special needs education campaign. The new program has more than 3,000 student participants in six states.
Christie awarded a total of $110,000 to 22 students around the state through the Spirit of a Hero scholarships. The students all exemplified "a demonstrated commitment to volunteerism and community contribution," according to a press release from the Governor's office.
Other Morris County winners include Alexandra Pilla and David Seth Mitchell, both of Randolph High School in Randolph.