At 93 she was an aspired young women. She had a world of opportunity ahead of her.
But on September 11th, 2001, her life would end along with the American dream and social innocence.
He was new to the world.
He could barely stand and he was just as innocent as the world that nurtured him.
But on September 11th, 2016, his life would never see the light of American patriotism that was flaunted during pre-War on Terrorism.
She was none other than Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, the only Houstonian to be aboard Flight 93 on the morning of September 11th, 2001.
He was Kevin Arreazola, still an innocent youth on that fateful morning, knowing not that he would be a finalist of an essay contest that was birthed through Catuzzi’s sacrifice fifteen years later.
Though their paths have never crossed, and they have never seen one another face-to-face, Kevin was one of her “hundreds of best friends” and he held a great admiration for not only her, but to all the heroes that perished in the name of the American dream.
Fifteen Years Later
On a crisp fall morning, one very much like the one fifteen years ago. Arreazola is among the crowd as a finalist in Lauren Catuzzi’s Honorary Garden in Downtown Houston.
Up on the stage lied Larry Catuzzi, the father of the late Lauren Catuzzi, who founded The Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas Foundation, which is dedicated to offering scholarships toward the winners of an essay contest and essentially keeping the name of Lauren Catuzzi alive within the community that birthed her.
Among the distinguished representatives was Mayor Sylvester Turner, and upon taking his moment to speak to the crowd, he said, “I would like to personally thank the family of Lauren Catuzzi, for turning their grief into a life-time commitment of serving others.”
After moments of heart-felt words, the fifteen finalists were brought to the stage and individually walked to receive a medal for their outstanding achievement in researching an event that they weren’t apart of, yet still hold very dear in their hearts.
Amongst the fifteen finalists was Maritza Cabello, a young woman from Heights High School, the winner of the contest, held the honor of reading her scholarship winning piece to a distinguished crowd that not only included the mayor, the future generation of leaders, but also hope-filled people who witnessed the tragedy with their own eyes, and are now seeing miracles fifteen years later.
Though Arreazola didn’t win first place in the essay contest, he was honored to have represented Northside High School and be among the many friends of Lauren Catuzzi.
When asked how he felt about his new found title as a local Northside hero, he chuckled and said that he feels that he wouldn’t describe himself as a hero, rather more a young man with a strong sense of appreciation.
The proud Arreazola family was there to support their own miracle,” I couldn’t be more proud of him,” said Aldo Hernandez.
“There is a real connection and I couldn’t be more amazed and surprised,” said John Paul Cortez, assistant principal at Northside High School. “To have experienced the feelings on September 11th, and then feeling proud of one of our Northside students is truly an amazing experience.”
Kevin is a hard-working and driven individual, and seeing him up on that stage along with the mayor makes me proud to be an instructor, said Francis Tee, director of Northside’s National Honor Society, with complete confidence.
Not only for Northside, but for all schools, this was a vital upbringing of the Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas Foundation, this was its third consecutive annual award, and they continue to providing hope toward young students, just as Lauren once did to the community that gave her an amazing life.
The contest opens again to all aspired writers this upcoming April. For more information, see www.lcgfoundation.org