Brian Sanford knows a little something about hard times. He came from a poor family in Hartford’s Northend. His mother is a former drug addict and the family knows the sting of being homeless. He has had to contend with the violence of inner city life (one of his closest friends was shot and killed while walking home from his senior prom). Despite his circumstances, however, Brian and his mother wanted a better life. Brian entered Westminster School as a 5th year senior. Although he graduated from Hartford Public High and had visions of attending college to play Division I football, he felt that he wasn’t academically prepared. Brian was introduced to Westminster by Todd Eckerson who is the Director of Crossroads Cooperative Learning Program and a Westminster faculty member. The scholarship provided through by the WALKS Foundation made the dream of a college preparatory education possible. The serene campus in Simsbury was a welcomed change from Brian’s neighborhood of drugs and violence. Westminster opened up a new world of possibilities. He excelled academically and continued to perform athletically. Today, Brian is a communications major at Temple University and a defensive end on the football team. He is able to balance his academic responsibilities with sports because of the valuable lessons and discipline taught at Westminster. “The WALKS Foundation has meant everything to me,” Brian says. “Thank you for investing in me WALKS. Without you, I know I wouldn’t be attending Temple.” Brian has also been an inspiration to his family. His two younger brothers are now planning on college and his mother – inspired by his success – will soon enroll in college to pursue an interest in psychology.
Ben Bailey found out about Avon Old Farms School, you could say, by accident. His childhood best friend’s brother was Mark Blake who attended Avon Old Farms and was himself a WALKS Scholar. Ben was always a precocious adolescent who needed to be challenged academically. It was clear to Mark from his conversations with Ben that he would excel at Avon. Mark recommended that he apply. Ben received a scholarship through the WALKS Foundation. Without it, Avon Old Farms would have been a financial hardship on his family and he would not have been able to attend. Ben excelled in his studies at Avon and went on to study at the University of Southern California. The foundation laid at Avon prepared him well for the challenges of college and helped to fuel his success. In time, he would graduate from the Weil Medical College at Cornell University. Today, Ben is a doctor in Huntsville, Alabama where he is the co-founder of the Alabama Urgent Care for Women. “The WALKS Foundation gave me an opportunity to develop academically at a crucial time. Thank you WALKS for investing and believing in me.” Ben is convinced that there is more untapped talent in the inner city that needs to be developed so that they can be the doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.