Colorado movie theater shooting victim's legacy lives on

North Carolina college student is first recipient of Jessica Ghawi Scholarship

SAN ANTONIO – Saturday marks the one year anniversary of the deadly shooting inside a Colorado movie theater that claimed the lives of 12 people and injured 70 others.

Among the victim's was San Antonio native Jessica Redfield Ghawi.

The 24-year-old was following her dreams of becoming a sports journalist when her own story came to a tragic end.

On July 20, 2012, Ghawi was watching the "The Dark Knight Rises" movie at the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colorado when a deranged gunman opened fire into the crowded theater.

In the months following her death, Ghawi's family started the Jessica Redfield Ghawi Scholarship Fund. It was established to provide scholarships to aspiring sports journalists.

Last month, college student Christine Williams became the first recipient.

Jessica's mother, Sandy Phillips, called her personally to let her know the good news.

"It was so nice to hear from her," Williams said. "She was very nice and welcoming and it sounded like they really wanted to give it to someone who they thought had a future and who reminded them Jessica."

Like Ghawi, Williams is a hockey fan looking to start a career as a broadcast sports reporter.

A Senior at Elon University in North Carolina, she's majoring in Broadcast Journalism with a concentration in sports. She's already interned with the Pittsburgh Penguins NHL team and is currently interning for NFL Films.

With the help of Ghawi's family she has met some of Jessica's friends, giving her a more personal connection.

"Just knowing about her and what her dreams were, they were basically the same as my dreams," Williams said. "She's living through me a little bit in that she had dreams and now she's, in a way, helping me fulfill mine."

Williams said the $10,000 scholarship will be very helpful in covering some of her expenses as she starts her senior year at Elon.

"$10,000 is a lot of money and it really helps out my family and I'm just so thankful for it," Williams said. "I hope that I can do everyone proud and that's really what I want to do and I do feel a drive to do that a little more."

In one year, the scholarship fund, which is managed by the San Antonio Area Foundation, has raised nearly $100,000. The hope is to continue growing the fund to $310,000 so it can be self-sustained as an endowment.

Here's a link to the San Antonio Area Foundation where you can make a donation: 

For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.

About the Author:

Tim Gerber is an investigative reporter and anchor on the KSAT Defenders team.