2020 marks the fifth year in a row that Indy Runners has awarded the Erika Wells Memorial Scholarship. Traditionally two $500 scholarships are given to local high school graduates whose lives have been positively impacted by the sport of running. This year we added an additional $500 scholarship to a deserving candidate thanks to a gift from Dr. Michael Helms and the support of Indy Runners members. The three winners are Jane Hirschman from North Central High School, Jaliaya Molett from Charles A Tindley Accelerated High School, and William Hackler from Franklin Central High School.
Erika Wells, who the scholarship is named after, was a beloved member of Indy Runners who passed away in October 2016. Her dedication to service, personal growth, and social engagement was unparalleled, and she embodied Indy Runners’ belief in the transformative power of running as part of a healthy lifestyle and a way to unify a community. The Erika Wells Scholarship is awarded to high school graduates who exemplify these characteristics.
William Hackler was a varsity member of both the Franklin Central cross country and track and field teams. He was also a member of the National Honor Society and was involved in several other school activities. He graduated with a GPA of 4.203 and is currently attending Purdue University.
Each scholarship applicant was asked to write and submit an essay on how they came to love running, what the sport of running means to them, or how they believe running will impact their future. We are happy to share William’s essay below.
I started running my junior year of high school. I was a soccer player at heart, having played it for more than ten years, so leaving the sport that I knew like the back of my hand was one of the hardest decisions that I have ever made.I knew that I have always had a talent for running. With a lot of hard thought, I decided to join the cross country and track teams at Franklin Central. I was very shy and found it hard to connect with some of the runners on the team. I had joined the cross country team just two days before the soccer tryouts, so I missed almost all of the summer conditioning for cross country. The team was very connected and I felt out of place. It took me a couple of weeks to feel comfortable with the team and to really start buying in to what it had to offer. Once I did, I instantly fell in love with the sport. I was always working as hard as I could to improve my times and work my way up the food chain.
In a little over a year, I dropped my time from a 17:52 down to a 16:18 for the 5k. While doing this I helped our team claim Sectional and Regional titles in 2019, while also receiving All-Sectional and Regional Honors for both my Junior and Senior years. In addition, I received All-Marion County Honors and helped our team win the first Marion County Championship in school history in 2019. Deciding to run was one of the best decisions that I have ever made and it has taught me many life lessons, as well as provided me with amazing role models and friends that I can call my brothers. The biggest lesson that I have learned is no matter what, you can always do better than your best. This lesson has helped me become a much better runner and student. This lesson has allowed me to stay focused in school and allowed me to achieve a 4.203 GPA out of 4.0 and receive First Team Academic All-State Honors.
Running will always be a part of me now. Unfortunately, my senior track season got canceled due to the coronavirus, but I have been doing additional training and participating in online time trials. I will continue to try to improve my times in hopes of walking on at Purdue University in the fall. This has been a goal of mine ever since I started running and I plan to do everything in my power to achieve this goal. No matter what happens, I will never lose my passion for running and will continue to train everyday like it is my last.
In addition to William’s essay, here is a short thank you video he sent us!
Remember, if you know a deserving young candidate for the 2021 Erika Wells Memorial Scholarship, encourage them to apply this upcoming winter/spring. To be notified when applications open, please email GivingBack@IndyRunners.org.