When Richard Wilson’s phone rang on Thursday, June 8, he didn’t recognize the number, didn’t recognize the voice on the other end, and like many of us who are tired of getting calls from telemarketers and phone scammers, Richard hung up. Then Richard blocked the number.
“I’ve had the parents of scholarship winners say a lot of different things to me when I call, but I’ve never had one hang up and then block me,” laughed DRI President Al Berman. Lucky for Richard and his son, R.J., Al has a sense of humor…and he’s persistent. Al called every phone number on file for Richard and sent him an email too. When Al called again, this time Richard answered, and he was very happy to learn that R.J. had been chosen as the recipient of one of two $5,000 DRI Foundation College Scholarships.
“I couldn’t believe I hung up him!,” said Richard. As for R.J. he said the only thing more surprising than winning the scholarship was the way it happened. “I was sitting right there when it my dad got the call. That was funny!”
Richard and R.J. share a lot of laughs. The bond between the two is evident, even over the phone, as they tag-team on stories and heap the kind of sincere glowing praise on each other that belies a deep connection and mutual respect.
Ever the proud parent, Richard says R.J. is “just an incredible young man. He’s the kind of person who gives his all and then some – all the time.”
As for R.J., he says his dad, who is a DRI International CBCV, is his role model. “I like that what he does helps people. That’s my goal too. To use what I learn in college to help people.”
R.J. is headed to the University of Louisville Speed Scientific School of Engineering. He graduated from Louisville’s duPont Manual High School with a 3.86 GPA and was named the “most outstanding high school senior,” by the mayor of Louisville, an honor awarded to only one senior at each high school in the city.
And he already has a head start on using what he has learned to help people, in addition to putting a lifelong love of tennis to work teaching young kids how to play the game, in addition to a ton of other volunteer activities too numerous to mention, R.J. is also an inventor. When he saw coaches having a hard time gauging the heat index on the playing fields (a number needed to decide if it’s safe to play), R.J. created an app to do it for them. In addition to solving the coaches’ problem and keeping students safe, that app won the science fair.
R.J. plans to continue to mix safety and science in college and beyond. As for Richard, he plans on answering calls from Al and anyone at DRI from now on! Jokes R.J., “Yeah, maybe I need to write an app for that!”