Vernessa Richard is expecting her first child, but it will never meet its grandfather. On September 10, 2001, Lieutenant Vernon Richards was informed that he would be promoted to Captain of New York City Engine Company 16, Ladder Company 7 in New York City.  Vernon had worked hard for that promotion and was delighted. It was an extraordinary feat for a Brooklyn native who had grown up in a New York City housing project. I should know. I grew up in that same housing project and defied all odds to become a physician.  Vernon married his childhood sweetheart Dorothy, after he completed his military tour and from that union emerged Vernessa and Vernon Jr. On September 11, 2001, the world changed forever. Vernon and 10 firemen from his station entered the World Trade Center in New York City and never returned.  Three months later, there was a memorial service in his honor and three years later an official funeral.

For years the Richard family had attempted to commemorate Vernon’s accomplishments and achievements in the form of a permanent memorial but to no avail. People who they thought would be supportive weren’t. They put their dream on hold until a reunion of present and former residents resurrected it. “What if” conversations emerged. “What if there was a school in our neighborhood named after Vernon?  The question ignited a passion and a movement was born. The children and young adults of our Brooklyn community deserve to be inspired by the late Captain Richard’s accomplishments. They need to know that a hero walked among us. A momentum has begun despite bureaucratic challenges.  We must obtain the permission of several high level officials including the New York City Chancellor. We are also faced with a deadline of less than 2 weeks to demonstrate the need and desire for the school’s name change. We need your help and so does Vernon’s unborn grandchild. We would appreciate you signing and circulating a petition in support of the school’s name change. Here is the link:  http://www.change.org/petitions/chancellor-d-walcott-school-name-change#comment-1670791

The Captain Vernon Richard Academy can become a reality with your help.