SPECIAL TO THE DAYTONA TIMES
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Allegiant Travel Company have announced the Howard Walls, Jr. Track and Field Memorial Scholarship.
The scholarship, commemorating the achievements, aviation career and legacy of the Embry-Riddle Athletics Hall of Famer and All-American track star has been endowed via a unique funding partnership between Walls’ teammates, family and colleagues, as well as a corporate contribution from Allegiant in support of future aviation professionals.
The scholarship will be awarded annually to an outstanding track athlete whose goal is to pursue a career in the aviation industry.
Walls competed for Embry-Riddle’s track and field team from 20052010 and was inducted into the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame on Jan. 19, 2019.
In his freshman campaign, he became the first Embry-Riddle Men’s Track and Field student-athlete to earn All-America honors with his fifth-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles at the NAIA Indoor National Championships.
He repeated as an All-American in that event in 2008 and 2009, setting the Embry-Riddle record of 8.08 in a third-place finish in his senior year.
Walls also achieved All-America status in the 110m hurdles after finishing fifth at the NAIA Outdoor National Championships in 2010. He set a school record in the 110-meter hurdles of 14.11 in 2008 and that mark still stands as an Embry-Riddle best.
Died last year
His studies at Embry-Riddle also brought about a successful career in the aviation industry, where he rose to become Allegiant’s director of quality, compliance and safety for station operations.
His life was tragically cut short by a motorcycle accident in 2018.
The idea of celebrating Walls’ achievements and legacy through a scholarship started with his former teammates at Embry-Riddle, including Chris Harter, who spearheaded an initial crowdfunding campaign which started in April.
A modest initial goal of $3,000 was met within 48 hours of the campaign launch, and quickly spread to friends, family and professional colleagues at Allegiant.
“Howard was somebody everybody liked, but not because he was a great athlete, but because he was a great person,” Harter said.
“He motivated and encouraged every teammate he was around and every athlete he coached. Former teammates and I feel that Howard’s name is one the track program should hear on a daily basis because he possessed the qualities of an All-American on and off the track.”
Through the company’s corporate giving priority of supporting STEM education and access to careers in aviation, Allegiant contributed $10,000 to the growing fund, helping to fully endow this special scholarsh.
“We were incredibly moved by the university’s campaign to establish a scholarship in Howard’s name, and we are thrilled to be able to help ensure that his memory and achievements inspire and help others realize their own dreams of careers in aviation,” said Hilarie Grey, Allegiant’s managing director of corporate communications.
With Allegiant’s support, the campaign to date has created both a term scholarship and an endowed memorial scholarship in Walls’ honor with donations totaling over $28,000.
“We have been blown away by the outpouring of support from Howard’s teammates, friends, coworkers, and family since this campaign started,” said Matt Wilson, senior director of development for Embry-Riddle Athletics.
“This campaign is a small representation of the impact Howard had on so many people throughout his life. The endowed memorial scholarship will help ensure Howard’s legacy lives on in the future generations of Embry-Riddle Track & Field student-athletes and our Athletics program.”
To be eligible for the scholarship, a student-athlete must be a full-time graduate or undergraduate student at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus with a 3.0 or better cumulative GPA pursuing a career in aviation, and be a current member of the Embry-Riddle men’s or women’s track and field team.
After exhausting his eligibility at Embry-Riddle, Walls remained involved with the university’s Track & Field program as a graduate assistant coach, working primarily with the hurdlers.
He helped Breanna Goring, Alex Dori and Crystal Bardge hit national championship qualifying marks, and played a role in Bardge winning national titles in both the indoor 60-meter hurdles and the 100-meter outdoor hurdles.
Originally from Augusta, Georgia, Walls earned his undergraduate degree in Aeronautical Science in 2010 and completed his master’s degree in Aviation in 2012. An announcement regarding the first recipient of the new scholarship is expected later this fall.