NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla., April 27, 2023 – AdventHealth New Smyrna Beach is proud to announce the renaming of a scholarship in honor of Ethan Wilson, a firefighter and beloved member of the community who tragically passed away earlier this year. The scholarship, which is given out by the hospital’s medical staff, will now be called the Ethan Wilson Memorial Scholarship to pay tribute to his legacy of service.
Wilson, a New Smyrna Beach resident who worked as a firefighter/paramedic with the Ormond Beach Fire Department, was found unresponsive while surfing in New Smyrna in February. He was treated in the ER and ICU at AdventHealth New Smyrna Beach, but passed away days later at age 33. In a final selfless act, he donated his organs, giving others a second chance at life.
“Our goal is to honor a hero, and shine a bright light on his service to the community,” said Dr. Peter Riga, medical director of the emergency department at AdventHealth New Smyrna Beach, who spearheaded the effort to rename the scholarship. “We want to inspire these students, who are the caregivers of tomorrow, by highlighting Ethan’s example.
“Ethan was a model of service in life, and at the end of his life,” Riga added.
Wilson’s wife, Ashley Wilson, and the couple’s young son Coast, 5 months, attended the ceremony, along with a number of Ethan’s firefighting colleagues and members of his AdventHealth care team.
The timing is especially significant because April 28 is Ethan’s birthday, and April is National Donate Life Month.
“Our whole family is honored, and so glad that Ethan’s legacy lives on,” said Ashley Wilson. “Ethan was a servant-leader, and we are proud and grateful to have him recognized this year, and every year going forward.”
This year’s scholarships went to five local high school seniors who are headed to college with plans for a medical career. Each student will receive $1,000 per year for each year of college.
Among the recipients was Alyssa Capel, who will go to the University of South Florida in the fall.
“It means the world to me to be able to serve like Ethan did,” Capel said. “I just hope to carry on his legacy of service and lift others up like he did.”