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Featured Champions: Larry Waller and Becky Wilder

Larry Waller and Rebecca Wilder on their wedding day

“Studies show that people who give are happier.  Philanthropy happens at many levels.  In every case it is a statement:  People are using their valuables to pass on their values.”  This is the life-long observation of Larry Waller.  It is a philosophy that inspired him and his bride, Rebecca Wilder, to initiate the Rebecca Wilder Scholarship Fund. The fund supports mentoring and scholarship programs for deserving Collier County Florida students who are the first in their family to attend college.

Larry and Rebecca, who were married in July 2012, requested their guests’ “presence” but not “presents” at their wedding celebration. They suggested instead that family and friends make a gift to the Rebecca Wilder Scholarship Fund.  “A life celebration is a special chance to support education,” explains Rebecca, who plans to continue to give her time as well as financially.

The newlyweds are longtime supporters of Champions For Learning (C4L).  Larry, who is originally from Ohio, was introduced to Susan McManus, President of C4L, through a previous board member and has been a general purpose donor for 10 years.  Larry, Founder of Waller Financial Planning Group, Inc., sees the role of investment advisor as not only facilitating financial return, but return of joy as well.  Larry believes it is important to be a change agent in our community and enjoys meeting with students and teachers. He is impressed with local teachers’ commitment and dedication to providing quality education.

Larry met his new wife, Rebecca, at Sunday school.  Rebecca has been a teacher for 42 years in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida with 13 years at Golden Gate Middle School.  Rebecca, whose motivation to teach came from her aunt, believes the best part of teaching is the interaction with her students.

One of her favorite memories was of student Amanda Weeks, a Take Stock in Children Scholarship and Mentoring Program student. Amanda’s life was changed by her participation in the program, and Rebecca was amazed by her achievements.  Amanda is now a student at Florida Gulf Coast University studying Forensic Medicine and hopes to work for the F.B.I.

Both Larry and Rebecca know the power of education and the support of teachers, which brings happiness not only to the scholarship recipients but to the donors as well.  Thank you both for your investment in Champions For Learning. Together we can encourage all in our community to invest in innovative practices that enrich the environment for student learning. You are Champions!