“Cos” Fund to help students, honor son
by Jack Deming
Jan 10, 2013 | 4333 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Michael Costello
Michael Costello
WILMINGTON- In December 2011, Michael “Cos” Costello died of a rare form of glandular cancer. Now those who were closest to Cos are getting the community involved, putting together the first annual Cos for a Cause benefit to share what they describe as his generous and entrepreneurial spirit, and to help students achieve their educational potential.

The event will be held at the Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain on February 24, with check-in at 10:30 am, and will feature a full day of skiing and snowboarding. At 4:30 pm, a silent auction will feature gift baskets and gift certificates from numerous area vendors, as well as a regular auction with big ticket items such as a snowboard signed by Olympic Gold Medalist Ross Powers, flat-screen TVs, and a year-long membership to the Hermitage Club, valued at $25,000.

The Hermitage resort serves as a fitting venue for the event. Costello was a lifelong Vermonter who spent much of his time on skis and snowmobiles, and worked as an excavating contractor across the country on projects such as snowmaking ponds and building the United States ski team’s new training run at Copper Mountain in Colorado.

The Cos Fund was put together by his family shortly after his death, with the goal of taking his finest attributes and putting them to work for others. Cos’ sister Erin Wecker says that while it was not an easy process to go through while in a state of grief, the family focused on what human traits made Cos so admirable, and what qualities he possessed that others could apply to their own lives. One of these traits was what Wecker called an “I can, I will, I did” attitude Cos employed every day, taking advantage of every opportunity he could.

The fund’s aim is to help students take advantage of the opportunities they see ahead of them, focusing on students who have made it to a higher education institution, but have high financial needs, which could deter them from achieving academic success. The fund finances vouchers to absorb the costs of textbooks, which can cost hundreds of dollars per book.

Wecker, a professor of English at Boston College, is involved with helping financially at-risk students, and knows that owning your own textbooks makes a difference.

“I come in contact with a lot of students whose academic potential is limited financially, and in some classes a single textbook can cost $300,” said Wecker. “While professors do everything they can, and put reserve copies in the library, there are students who can’t afford a $300 textbook, and if you have 30 people trying to share a reserve textbook, it’s really hard to only access a book for two hours in a 24-hour period, and know that will be enough to do what you need. So I saw a lot of my students who were incredibly bright and talented in their peer group, but because of financial restrictions, and not being able to own their own textbooks, were falling behind, and to me that didn’t seem fair.”

In order to receive one of these vouchers, students who apply must read an essay about Michael Costello, and write an essay of their own, describing themselves and their circumstances, which, according to Kathie Costello, Michael’s mother, are often extreme. “They’re at a point in their life where they’re going to change the structure of their future family, the community, and eventually the world,” said Costello. “A textbook is the most important and necessary thing to help them achieve that, once they have a foot in the door.”

The Cos Fund has given out 22 vouchers so far to students at Boston College through the Jesuit Higher Education Opportunity Program. These students, who hail from the United States, and as far away as Kenya and Bosnia, are applying for vouchers for the new semester by writing about the impact of last semester, and for the first time in their life, having their own textbooks.

Each attendee of the Cos for a Cause benefit needs a minimum of $200 in donations to participate. Participants can either pay the $200 or download a fundraising form at cosfund.org, which they are encouraged to send along to their contacts as well. Each participant will receive an original Skip Morrow-designed commemorative T-shirt. The participant with the most pledges will win a grand prize, with the top fundraiser honored by having their name appear on each subsequent year’s T-shirt.

Donation and registration forms, as well as more information, can be found at www.cosfund.org. To donate items contact Jerry Costello at (802) 477-2820.
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