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.

welcome Kristin Kreuser to our Advisory Board!

We are proud to announce that Kristin Kreuser is the newest member of the Foundation's advisory board.

Kristin is Brian’s cousin and has supported the Foundation for the past 25 years by volunteering and attending all events.  

An Oconto native, Kristin earned her undergraduate degree at St. Norbert College and her master’s degree from Lesley University.   She has been a language arts teacher at Preble High School since 1995.  At Preble, she is currently the Key Club advisor and Academic Decathlon coach.  

Kristin and her husband live in Green Bay with their two children, Sydney and Michael.  Her hobbies include traveling, reading, scrapbooking, and playing with her Vizsla named Ginger.  

Honoring his mother with contribution

By Marc Cannizzo

Marc C Parents1.jpg

Thank you for this opportunity to honor my mother, Marianne Cannizzo-Bigler, who completed her journey in July 2016. She was born in Bern, Switzerland, and grew up in a household challenged by the great depression. After World War II, she met John, my father, who was serving with the US Army in Germany and they married in 1949 in New York City, where she became a naturalized US citizen. She spoke no English at the outset, but by the end of her life, had developed a fluency and vocabulary—based on a life time passion for reading—that attracted comment and admiration from her friends and family. Though she did not go to college, she was supportive of my father’s academic endeavors under the GI Bill, and together they created a home for us kids that was based on self-reliance, respect for others and a lifelong commitment to learning.

My parents persevered in running their own household until their 89th year of life (and nearly 66 years together). When nursing care became inevitable, our whole family came to appreciate the valuable services provided by healthcare professionals, whose efforts supplemented and enhanced the love and attention given by family members.

My parents would surely join me in thanking all those who have mastered the art of serving the public interest without undermining private dignity and the virtue of self-reliance.

There is much more to this sweet story.  Marc's niece, Stephanie shares more through the words of Marianne and John themselves by clicking here.