TAMPA — Amanda Crawford says the Gold Shield Foundation gave her a second chance.
When she first started college, her father, David Crawford, was paying for her tuition. She was “18 and dumb,” she says, and flunked out after her first semester.
But her perspective changed when her father, an officer with the St. Petersburg Police Department, was killed on duty in February 2011. After his death, the Gold Shield Foundation approached Crawford and offered to pay for her to go back to school.
Almost three years later, she has finished her degree at Pasco Hernando Community College and is enrolling in the zoology program at Santa Fe College in Gainesville. She is the first person in her family to get a degree, Crawford said Tuesday during the Gold Shield Foundation’s annual luncheon.
“I felt that I made my dad proud,” she said.
The Gold Shield Foundation, formed in 1981 by the late New York Yankees owner and Tampa philanthropist George M. Steinbrenner, is a non-profit dedicated to supporting the spouses and children of law officers who die in the line of duty. The foundation pays for college in addition to providing other financial support.
Hal Steinbrenner, George Steinbrenner’s son and managing general partner of the Yankees, said the foundation’s contribution to the families is a way of saying “thank you.” Paying for college, he said, is now one less expense for them.
“Don’t worry about this one thing,” Steinbrenner said during the luncheon. “We got it. We got it covered.”
At this year’s meeting, the foundation also honored former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco and Msgr. Laurence Higgins, long-time former pastor of St. Lawrence Catholic church, for their contributions.
Thirty-seven officers and firefighters have died in the line of duty since 1981, according the foundation. The organization has about 600 members.