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All flights en route to the United States that day were diverted. One such flight, Delta Airlines Flight 15, heading from Germany to Atlanta, landed in Gander, Newfoundland. Hundreds of affected travelers were bused to Lewisporte, a tiny bayside town, where residents greeted them with open arms.
In 2002, inspired by the acts of kindness she witnessed, and with the assistance of fellow travelers and others, Shirley Brooks- Jones established a Scholarship Fund at The Columbus Foundation in appreciation for the hospitality shown to her and thousands of other stranded passengers. The Lewisporte Area Flight 15 Scholarship Fund continues to pay grateful dividends in the form of scholarships to those from the village and surrounding area. Since inception, the fund has awarded 291 scholarships to local students.
This remarkable story of kindness and human connection has been written about and covered on television all around the world, and, more recently, even spawned a very popular Broadway play, Come From Away.
For her creation of this valuable fund, inspiring as it was in its imagination and hopefulness during one of the darkest days in United States history, and for the kind and generous spirit that Shirley brings to everyone around her, we honor the Lewisporte Area Flight 15 Scholarship Fund and its leading advisor and advocate, Shirley Brooks-Jones, as the inaugural winner of the Acorn Award.