Aaron Goldberg will soon begin his studies at Penn State, and his tuition bill will be a little lighter thanks to a prestigious scholarship he received.
Goldberg, who graduated in June from George Washington High School, received the Andrew Farrell Spirit of Courage Scholarship, which comes with a $2,500 college scholarship.
The award has been handed out every year since 2004 and is named in memory of Andrew Farrell, a popular pitcher/first baseman for Washington. He played on the team that went undefeated during the regular season in 2001. He died in 2004 at age 21 after a long battle with leukemia. His No. 25 jersey was later retired.
The award, usually given to a senior, is awarded to a Washington baseball player who most exemplifies Farrell on and off the field.
Goldberg learned he was the winner on May 18 at the charity’s annual Home Run Derby at Washington.
“I was very surprised,” he said. “It’s pretty nice. There’s a good foundation of guys who got the award before me, and I feel I’m a good representative on and off the baseball field, in school and in the community.”
Gail Goldberg is proud of her son and grateful to the charity officials who recognized him.
“I’m so thankful to them,” she said. “It’s a wonderful thing they do.”
Aaron, 18, is the second of three boys in his family. Josh graduated from Washington in 2011 and is best known for having 13 years perfect attendance. Joel will be a junior at Washington, where he plays baseball.
Louis Goldberg, Gail’s husband and the boys’ father, died last September after a six-month battle with leukemia and lymphoma. He was 55.
He was diagnosed with cancer in March 2012. The prognosis was grim, and he never went into remission. He had countless chemotherapy treatments and hospital stays.
Aaron’s bedroom is on the ground floor of the family’s Susan Road home, but he gave it up to his dad when he could no longer walk up the stairs. Josh, Aaron and Joel would take turns sleeping on the floor next to their dad’s bed and helped dress, feed and wash him.
The charity’s board of directors votes for the winner based on recommendations of Washington head coach Ken Geiser and assistant coach Jim O’Hara.
Jason Welte is a co-founder of the scholarship fund and vice president of the board. A 2002 Washington graduate, he was a friend and teammate of Farrell. Last off-season, Welte organized weekly batting practices for Washington players at Sluggersville, the new year-round baseball and softball training facility at 9490 Blue Grass Road.
“Aaron was a regular attender and great about rounding up his teammates,” said Welte, who was also impressed with how Goldberg handled his father’s illness and death.
“It was pretty incredible the way he stayed tough.”
Last month, Welte presented Goldberg with a glass acrylic trophy during lunch at Cafe Michelangelo. The scholarship check will be sent to Penn State in Goldberg’s name.
Joining them at lunch was Corey Sharp, last year’s scholarship winner as a junior. He’ll be attending Holy Family University.
Sharp and Goldberg will also have their names on a plaque that lists all the winners and hangs outside the Washington athletic office.
The Andrew Farrell Spirit of Courage Fund also donated $5,000 this year to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Money is raised at the annual Home Run Derby, where the rubber-armed O’Hara throws all the pitches. Goldberg participated for the last three years, but didn’t hit one over the fence.
“I hit some line drives,” he said.
Goldberg was a third baseman for Washington, which lost to Frankford in the Public League Class AAAA championship game.
Goldberg, who is spending his summer working at Giant supermarket and cutting lawns, was ranked fourth in a senior class of about 450. After attending Central High as a freshman, he transferred to Washington, where he received all As, except for a B in physics.
He was a member of the National Honor Society and a photographer for the yearbook. He worked three years as a research volunteer at a Drexel University engineering lab. He’s also been a multiaward winner in science fairs dating to his days at Anne Frank Elementary School and Baldi Middle School.
At Penn State, he’ll major in mechanical engineering.
“I chose Penn State because I liked the tradition and it offered the best program,” said Goldberg, who added that he’ll be siding with all the Philadelphia sports fans against supporters of the Pittsburgh teams.
Money for the fund is also raised at a yearly golf tournament. This year’s outing is set for Sept. 7 at Bensalem Country Club. There will be a 1 p.m. shotgun start.
For more information on the charity or the upcoming golf outing, go to andrewfarrell.org ••