University of Massachusetts joins forces with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to take a stand against bullying and give the gift of education
Springfield, Mass. (September 18, 2011) - The University of Massachusetts announced today that it has awarded four-year scholarships to two Springfield children as it joins forces in an important cause with the ABC television series "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." The children, 8-year-old Charles Walker-Hoover and 7-year-old Gloria Walker-Hoover, were directly affected when their brother, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, took his own life at age 11 after repeated incidents of harassment at school.
"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" will highlight the Walker-Hoover family - and the impact that bullying has had on them - in an upcoming episode of the highly rated ABC program. The scholarships will cover the entire cost of education for four years for both Charles and Gloria, including room, board and fees, at any one of the four undergraduate UMass campuses (Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, or Lowell). The cast, crew and volunteers working for "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" will also dramatically renovate the Walker-Hoover home in Springfield.
"We are honored to have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these children, who were so cruelly affected by the tragic loss of their brother," said UMass President Robert L. Caret. "Bullying can happen anywhere, to anyone, and it is our responsibility as community leaders to come together to speak out against this type of behavior. We are thrilled to be a part of the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" renovation of the Walker-Hoover home, and we look forward to making Charles and Gloria part of the UMass family."
President Caret will present the scholarships to the Walker-Hoover children later today at the family's new home. The "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" team, local builders N. Riley Construction of Chicopee and crowds of volunteers demolished Walker-Hoover's home on September 11 and have been working tirelessly since then to rebuild the home in just seven days while the Walker-Hoover family was treated to a dream vacation in Hollywood.
The children's mother, Sirdenear Walker, became an anti-bullying advocate after her son's death, tirelessly working to promote the passage of anti-bullying legislation at both the state and federal levels. She was surprised, along with the rest of her family, when the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" team and a crowd of volunteers showed up at the family's home in Springfield. Walker's pre-renovation home was more than 100 years old and in significant disrepair, with structural, plumbing and electrical problems.
University counselors and mentors will work closely with Charles and Gloria throughout their high school years to ensure they meet the qualifications of admission to the university and will help in facilitating a successful transition to the campus of their choosing. Similar to other scholarship award recipients, the Walker-Hoover family will need to file for any federal and state financial aid opportunities that are available.
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