So kudos to you, Mr. Schulze … for finding the kids in the middle, our kids

Dear Mr. Schulze,

First of all, I am again compelled to say “Thank you.”  Though I would understand, as often as you must hear it, if those words lost some of their impact through sheer repetition, our family can never say it enough.

I warned Marla that I’m not known for my brevity when it comes to the written word, but I will try.  In 1994, we had our first child.  Twenty-two months later, we had our last two, two minutes apart, the twins Keegan and Riley.  Sparing you a botanical review of every leaf on our family tree, I will tell you that there have only been two negative things about our children’s particular birth order.  One, is that the empty nest syndrome came upon us more suddenly as opposed to gradually, what with our last two heading off to college together, and two, having three boys in college at the same time can strain even the strongest of wallets.  I think this is where I say “thank you” again.

We raised our boys with the knowledge that our family was not poor, nor was it rich, and to act the former would be dishonest, and the latter unwise.  We are in the middle, and the best way to explain what the Schulze scholarship means to our family is like this:  you found us.

So many scholarships go to those with the most need and that is fine.  And for those who can afford to pay their own way, that benefits everyone.  But what about those in the middle?  They are the white elephant in the room, kept silent by the politically correct.  How dare you not give the scholarship to the one who needs it the most?  How dare you even bring it up?  OK, so my kids don’t need it the most.  Does that mean they don’t need it at all?  Are we ineligible because we do alright, because we didn’t do less?  For the longest time, that’s how it seemed.  Tyler, Keegan and Riley‘s older brother, graduated from the same high school, Barron Collier, with similar grades and background.  He got a scholarship from his employer (where all three boys work actually) and that was it.   Needless to say, our hopes were not high for the twins.

And then one day, I got an e-mail from a lady in the guidance office telling us about the Schulze scholarship, saying she thought of the twins immediately.  We don’t count chickens at the Heald house, but we do love eggs.  There was hope.

“Hope” is an overused word these days and the current president’s campaign theme has left the word open to ridicule, but “hope” is really all kids need.  A reason to pursue a future, to believe, to study today for a benefit tomorrow, to think things can turn out alright.  My wife and I used to sit around and bemoan the scholarship situation, it was all we could do.  You can’t, with a clear conscious, be bitter about needy kids getting scholarships, but when you have two kids who have busted their butts their entire lives in school, on the playing field, at work, and who are genuinely good kids…it’s hard not to get a slice of the pie, not even the crumbs left in the pan.

So kudos to you, Mr. Schulze, and the foundation, for having the courage and the insight to find the kids in the middle, our kids.  We could’ve put our kids through college on our own, but we would’ve gone into debt to do it, and at some point, they probably would’ve, too.  The Schulze scholarship removed that burden and opened other doors.  Keegan wants to be a doctor now.  We didn’t plan on med school, financially or otherwise, but with the Schulze and other assistance, things like that are possible now.  There is, that word again, hope.

I’ll close with this.  We’re big on being polite in our family.  The boys learned early on that if “please” and “thank you” were called for, they better answer.  To this day, if we’re out to eat and the waitress brings five glasses of water, she’ll hear “thank you” five times.  When they were little, we were always the proud parents, even if the repetition bordered on the silly at times.  In that spirit, I close as I open…thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.


H. Kevin Heald
Father of Keegan & Riley Heald
Barron Collier High School
University of Florida