Mother of Joliet teen killed in train accident creates scholarship program in his honor

It has been nearly three years since 15-year-old Charlie Cooper lost his life in Joliet. Now, his mother is working to make sure his legacy lives on through other children.

"Charlie was such a good kid. He was kind, generous, sweet, funny — and I always want him to be remembered for that," said Charlie’s mother Bobbi Zuidema.

Zuidema wants to make sure her son is always remembered. Her son died in a train accident in Joliet in 2019.

"Missing the milestones is the hardest part. So with him not graduating, I decided not to focus on what we can't do but what we can do — and that’s where the scholarships came in," she said.

After raising money in other ways, Zuidema is now launching a GoFundMe in his name for the "Guardian Angel Scholarship Program."


"It’s not really based on GPA or anything like that. We basically had students write up essays that kind of fit categories that were important to Charlie; animals, neighborhood, sports, film, music — and he always did so many acts of kindness — students write essays based on those things," she said.

Zuidema says it will be hard to pick the winners. But she hopes the go fund me will help her raise as much as she can to give out as many scholarships as possible in Charlie’s name.

"I think he would be proud," she said.