A Promise Made, A Promise Kept

A 25 Year Journey…

For the past 25 years the Brian LaViolette Scholarship Foundation has been changing lives through scholarships awarded to high school seniors. It began with a single scholarship in Brian’s name, with the promise of great things being accomplished in his memory.

With the formation of the Brian LaViolette Scholarship Foundation that single scholarship grew to over 50 annual scholarships in Wisconsin, 14 other states and three foreign countries. In addition to bearing Brian’s name, the scholarships were expanded to remember the lives of so many other individuals who served our communities and country.

To date 781 scholarships have been awarded to students with the same vision of doing great things for their community.

After 25 years, Brian’s Foundation is celebrating their accomplishments and the countless lives touched by Brian’s inspirational words, “The Journey is the Reward.”

On August 8, 2017 witness how a single promise made, and kept, continues to inspire others. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Lambeau Field Legends Club Room

Three recipients for the Ray Zimmerman Scholarship

Gloria Zimmerman and her husband Paul, established the Ray Zimmerman Scholarship three years ago at West High School in honor of Paul's father who was a former teacher.

Paul Zimmerman past away last October and in honor of his life, two additional scholarships were awarded by Gloria at the award ceremony last week. 

Her speech shared a little more about each recipeint...

First, Cora Shefchik.  She will be attending Loras College and majoring in Political Science to pursue a career as a Child Law Attorney Advocate.  She wants to help children have a voice and be a strong helpful person that they can rely on. 

Next, Sarah Snyder.  She will be attending either Wisconsin Lutheran or Concordia University.  Her courses of study will be Chemistry and Pre-Pharmacy.  While in college she would love to go on a mission trip and participate in community services as a way to ‘paying it forward’.

Lastly, Katelyn Stasck.  She will be attending Silver Lake College.  Her field of study will be Biology/Pre-medicine with plans to attend medical school for cardiology.  Her decision to pursue this field of study is due to the impact a neurosurgeon had on her family’s lives when he saved her father’s life. 

Each of these graduates wants to ‘pay it forward’ which was also the goal of Brian LaViolette.  It is something they have already been doing during their years here at West and it is truly an honor to present these scholarships to them. 

For more details on the Ray Zimmerman Scholarship, please visit http://www.briansjourney.com/scholarships/ray-zimmerman-scholarship

The power of Education.

"Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world." -Nelson Mandela.   

This was quoted in the essay of the 2017 Brian LaViolette Scholarship recipient, Rachel McMorrow.  We believe that she will change many lives in this world.

We surprised Rachel during her Human Anatomy class this week at West DePere High School.  

This scholarship award is $10,000 and will go to towards Rachel's education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she will pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.

 Left to Right-Principal Russ Gerke, Doug LaViolette, Rachel McMorrow,  Renee LaViolette, Kim LaViolette and Superintendent John Zegers.

Through the administrative help of Partners in Education, one student was selected from about 4,000 Seniors in the Green Bay district.  A student from each of the 17 schools applies.  The committee narrows it down to 5 and our family, along with Ashley of Partners in Education interview the finalists. 

This year, you have helped financially support and inspire the lives of 53 students, many families, teachers, counselors and all those that pay it forward through their service.

Other-Worldly Wisdom by Rick Sense

This past winter my friend Doug presented me with a gift box containing a journal and pen honoring his son’s legacy. Embossed with his late son Brian’s handwritten mantra, “The journey is the reward,” I spent weeks contemplating how to properly utilize such a meaningful and thoughtful expression of friendship. (To learn more please click here.) So I placed the charcoal colored box, with the journal and pen securely inside, on my desk as a way to remind me of my quest of finding a fitting use for such a purposeful gift. More on this later…. 

I like to read. I am not a fan of fiction, but prefer reading biographical works, historical tomes and about leadership put into practice. However, over the last few months my reading list has been centered on people who have developed what I call "other-worldly wisdom" from the observations, lessons, challenges and adversity they have faced in their own life's journey. 

One of these people oozing “other-worldly wisdom” is Alexis de Tocqueville. While eating lunch on a cold February afternoon, I stumbled across a quote of his that really hit me as the right perspective needed to face adversity. The quote, taken from Democracy In America-de Tocqueville’s quintessential treatise on America, is this: “Life is to be entered upon with courage.” 

After reading this quote, I immediately took a scrap of napkin, wrote it down, folded the scrap in half and put it in my coat pocket (I refuse to mark up a book with notes and highlighting-that’s why napkins and sticky notes were created). When I returned to work, I took the scrap of napkin out of my pocket, unfolded it and stared at it, wondering how was I going to capture these “other-worldly wisdom” words properly? Then it hit me! Do you remember that wonderful gift I received earlier? I can write de Tocqueville’s quote in the journal that Doug gave me! 

After entering de Tocqueville’s words of wisdom in the journal, I stumbled on another quote later that afternoon. This one was from author Ray Bradbury. He said, “We are all born to be who we are. Our job is to finish the job on earth that we were created for.” Again, I grabbed the journal and began to transcribe.

Since that cold winter’s day in February, I have been writing down quote after quote after quote. The journal has become a go-to place for the thoughts and wisdom gathered from glimpses into other people’s journeys of living life on a daily basis. I have many inclusions in my journal and am always looking for more. I encourage you to share one with me, and others who may read this article, by leaving an attributed quote as a comment to this post.

In conclusion, I have found myself leafing through the pages of my journal, re-reading my handwritten transcriptions on many occasions. The interesting revelation to me about the quotes that I have captured so far is this: life is truly a long lesson, a lesson taught by experience. What better way to learn is there but to rely on the experiences of those on their journeys that have developed “other worldly-wisdom” and are willing to share? The benefit of their life experiences coupled with my own reminds me that Doug’s son Brian had correctly figured out life when he wrote, “the journey is the reward.”

"I have spent my life feeling the rewards"

Perry Kidder serves on the Brian LaViolette Foundation Board of Advisors.  He is an active member of the community and is involved with many other organizations in Northeast Wisconsin.  He shares a little more about Brian's Foundation and why he chooses to be a board member in this short video.

Thanks to Dean Leisgang of ETP-NEW for making this interview possible.