Jefferson Award winner Gina Russo honors Station nightclub fire victims

Jefferson Award winner Gina Russo honors Station Night Club fire victims

The Jefferson Awards honor citizens who do extraordinary things for their community. 2018 winner Gina Russo survived the Station nightclub fire and works to honor those who were killed and injured.

Gina Russo is a survivor.

She was injured in the Station nightclub fire and made it her mission to make sure everyone remembers all 100 victims.

“You learn how to adjust to this life,” Russo told NBC 10 News. “Every day, I look at the scars on my body. It’s just there and it is what it is.”

It was an unimaginable tragedy 15 years ago. The fire killed 100 people, injuring more than 200 others.

Russo was badly burned. Her fiancée, Fred Crisostomi, died.

“Fred Crisostomi was just this larger than life person. He had so much optimism for life,” Russo said.

His memory and support from loved ones helped Russo endure more than 50 surgeries.

“To be able to give this to him and the 99 others was really important to me,” Russo said.

The site where so many changed forever in the worst ways possible is now a place for healing. In May 2017, the Station Fire Memorial Park officially opened in West Warwick.

“This sacred ground is a peaceful place,” Russo said. “Yes, a tragic event happened, but some of us are living so well.”

Other survivors and families say without Russo’s leadership it wouldn’t have happened. The foundation she started overcame every obstacle, including the need to raise $2 million

“To know and hear people say this might not have happened had I not stuck it out -- it is humbling, that’s for sure,” she said. “But it makes me proud that I was able to do this, that I was strong enough to do this.”

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