Gina Rose Montalto. Photo by Emma Dowd.

By: Carly Levy

Through a scholarship fund in her name, the memory of Gina Rose Montalto will live on by helping other young women achieve great things in their lives just like she would have.

Tony and Jennifer Montalto of Parkland created a foundation in honor of their daughter’s memory to provide scholarships towards higher education.

“We think the foundation will allow [the scholarship recipients] to go on and achieve great things in life in the way Gina would have,” said Tony.

Gina was 14 when she was killed during the school massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Tony said Gina had a thirst for knowledge and sought it out everywhere. She had a great interest in drawing, math, science, and building robots. He also said she had a beautiful smile that could light up a room. She loved the “Percy Jackson” and “Harry Potter” series of books and once told her mother that she wanted to live in a library.

Gina was also working towards her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor for a Girl Scout and volunteered as well with The Friendship Initiative, which connects children with special needs and their peers. As a  volunteer at her church youth group, Gina organized events for the younger students in the religious department.

As well as with her parents, Gina also had a close relationship with her 12-year-old brother who is doing the best he can to get through this difficult time without his best friend.

Jennifer believes it is important for those who are grieving to find solace with one other, not away, along with seeking help and accepting family and community support when it is offered.  “We hope that for the people who survived, the families will draw support from one another,” said Tony.

Still in its early stages, The Gina Rose Montalto Foundation will award scholarships beginning in the spring of 2019. So far, the Montaltos are planning on awarding a scholarship to a student pursuing an arts degree and another pursuing a STEM degree in science, technology, engineering or math. They also plan to award members of the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida who have achieved a gold or silver award.

Tony believes children and parents should hug one another more often because we need a little more kindness in the world. “The house is a quieter place without her. We’re going to miss her forever. We’re gonna love her forever.”

To donate, please go to the Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation.

Carly Levy was born and raised in Coral Springs. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Film and minored in theatre. Her goal is to leave a mark on the world with her writing in any way that she can.

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