Daytona Beach, FL - Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is teaming up with a Las Vegas-based low-cost carrier to bring a brand new scholarship to the institution.
The scholarship is known as the Howard Walls, Jr. Track and Field Memorial Scholarship, which commemorates the achievements, aviation career and legacy of Embry-Riddle Athletics Hall of Famer and All-American track star Howard Walls, Jr.
It 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 2005 to 2010 and was inducted into the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame early this year in January.
In his freshman career, Walls 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.
His studies at ERAU also brought about a successful career in the aviation industry, where he rose to become Allegiant Air's director of quality, compliance and safety for station operations. His life was tragically cut short by a motorcycle accident in 2018.
"Howard was somebody everybody liked, but not because he was a great athlete, but because he was a great person," said Chris Harter, one of Walls' former teammates and who spearheaded the scholarship's crowdfunding.. "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."
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.
“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.
Through the airline's giving priority of supporting STEM education and access to careers in aviation, Allegiant contributed $10,000 to the growing fund, helping to fully endow the scholarship.
"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.