Christopher Cook Scholarship Grows for Sacred Heart

News Story: September 6, 2017
From left are Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Emeritus, Don Cook, Cristina Zangagli,
President John Petillo, Gillian Guerin and Vice President for University Advancement Bill Reidy.
Zangagli and Guerin are the 2017 recipients of the scholarship.

The Power of Pioneering Passion: A Community Doing Well by Doing Good

How do you redeem tragedy? If you’re the Sacred Heart University community, you do it by breaking through established norms to create a visionary opportunity for students who’ve come out the other side of their own potential calamities. That’s what SHU did in launching the Christopher Cook Scholarship Fund two years ago, reflecting the school’s own commitment to compassion, family and participating in the wider community through service to others.

Christoper Cook
Christopher Cook

Named for the son of Don Cook, SHU Executive Director of Athletics, Emeritus, who lost his battle with cancer in 2014 at the age of 48, the scholarship supports young cancer survivors attending SHU.  A gifted athlete and former Division 1 baseball player, devoted father and husband, as well as a rising star at Hitachi Capital America Corp., Chris had a life-affirming spirit that infuses the endowed scholarship as it continues to grow. Six students have received the scholarship to date. Once awarded, they receive it through graduation.

“I am honored to have my name associated with Christopher Cook through the Sacred Heart scholarship in his honor. From all I learned, Christopher was a wonderful man, a role model that all of us who experienced similar heartache will always be able to emulate. I am humbled, proud and grateful to be connected to him in this special way,” said one of the four inaugural scholarship recipients.

The scholarship is funded by CT Challenge through Team SHU riding in the annual CT Challenge Bike Event.  Last year, Hitachi Capital signed on with its own team in further support of the scholarship.  To date, the teams have generated more than $75k in donations to the fund, including $12k from Hitachi.  Fundraising remains continues for the Hitachi and SHU teams who participated in this year’s CT Challenge Bike event on July 29th. The SHU team raised $25,372 in donations and the 17-member Hitachi team is set to raise another $17k …both of which will increase the amount available for scholarship awards even further.

“The stories of the six students (who have received the Christopher Cook Scholarship) are of pain and uncertainty, underscored by extraordinary courage, a will to triumph and the resolve to live life to the fullest. Each is its own brand of inspiration,” said Don Cook.

Said one of last year’s scholarship recipients in her application, “Cancer has always defined me. I think about it every day through the side-effects of my treatments, friends who have passed away from it, in my anatomy books at school, or even just looking at myself in the mirror. While cancer is an awful disease, I wouldn't change my having it. Cancer has made me who I am today and has given me a place in the Cancer Club, made of amazing patients, survivors, families, and nurses who see life from a different perspective. Cancer makes people understand how fragile and special every life is, which is why I want to spend my life helping patients as a nurse because I survived; I am here because I defeated cancer, and I believe I'm meant to do something special with my second-chance at life.”

Thanks to so many in the Sacred Heart community, our Fairfield baseball friends and former Fairfield colleagues and friends in the region, as well the compassionate generosity of Hitachi Capital, the Christopher Cook Scholarship Fund is helping her do just that.

For more information about the Christopher Cook Scholarship Fund or how you might get involved with Team SHU, please contact Don Cook at