For Immediate Release
October 5, 2021

Carly Colombo

[email protected]

Herschel Walker, Legendary Football Star, to Receive 2022 Horatio Alger Award

Horatio Alger Association names 16 outstanding individuals, each of whom has overcome adversity to achieve professional and personal success, to its Member Class of 2022 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 5, 2021) – Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, today announced that Herschel J. Walker, legendary football star and Founder and CEO of H. Walker Enterpriseshas been selected for membership in this prestigious organization. Mr. Walker joins 15 other exceptional business, civic and cultural leaders from across North America in receiving 2022 honors. For 75 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been annually bestowed upon esteemed individuals who have succeeded despite facing adversities, and who have remained committed to higher education and charitable efforts in their communities. 

The fifth of seven children, Mr. Walker was raised near Augusta, Georgia in a small house on a farm where his parents worked — his father as a farmer, his mother as the housekeeper for the family who owned the farm. From an early age, Mr. Walker was taught to never give up and credits his parents with instilling in him a strong work ethic. During his early school years, he was bullied for being overweight and having a speech impediment. Following a particular incident in eighth grade, Mr. Walker began working out and gaining confidence in himself. He went on to become one of the top students in his high school class and a star athlete, receiving both academic and athletic scholarship offers. Mr. Walker accepted an offer to the University of Georgia, where he won a National Championship and earned the Heisman Memorial Trophy Award for Outstanding College Football Player of the United States in 1982.

Upon leaving the University of Georgia, Mr. Walker signed with the United States Football League (USFL) before joining the National Football League (NFL), playing on various teams for more than a decade. After his retirement from professional sports, he created H. Walker Enterprises in 2002, a company whose subsidiaries include Renaissance Man Food Services, H. Walker Foods and Herschel’s Famous 34. Mr. Walker attributes multiple people in his life for helping him get to where he is today and believes the company is his way of giving back and providing others with a chance.

“From a young age, Mr. Walker has shown an ability to set long-term goals and put in the work to achieve them,” said Terrence J. Giroux, executive director, Horatio Alger Association. “In addition to the success he’s achieved in both his athletic and business careers, he remains committed to giving back to others. We’re pleased to induct him as a lifetime Member who is living proof for our Scholars that they can do whatever they set their minds to.”

In 2008, Mr. Walker revealed his mental health struggles in his book Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder. He has become an advocate for others living with mental health disorders, and his candidness on the topic has led him to speak at many mental health events and on national television. For example, Mr. Walker serves as the spokesperson for the Patriot Support Program, an organization that links veterans with behavioral health services. Through this partnership, he has visited more than 80 military installations, sharing his story and words of encouragement with active military members.

“I have had the privilege of attending several Horatio Alger events in the past and have witnessed the immense impact the organization has on American youth,” said Mr. Walker. “I made sure to always study and take school seriously growing up. Because of that, my academic scholarships provided me options in choosing my educational route. The Association’s mission in ensuring students have access to an education is a critical one, and it means a great deal to me to become a part of this special organization.”

Since 1984, the Association has awarded annual need-based scholarships to high school students who have displayed dedication to pursuing higher education despite significant obstacles throughout their lives. The Association also aims to educate young people about the endless opportunities available by the free-enterprise system through commitment, honesty, and diligence. The scholarships are made possible through the Association thanks to the generosity of its Members, who will have collectively provided more than $235 million to 35,000 students by the 2022 Awards.  

Mr. Walker and the Member Class of 2022 will be formally inducted into the Association on April 7-9, 2022, during the Association’s 75th Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The three-day event is an annual ceremony to honor both the achievements of Members and National Scholars, who will have multiple opportunities to meet, interact and exchange stories of perseverance. 

For more information about Horatio Alger Association and its Member Class of 2022, please visit and follow the organization on FacebookTwitter and Instagram


About Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans:  

Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. is dedicated to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles. The Association honors the achievements of outstanding leaders who have accomplished remarkable successes in spite of adversity by bestowing upon them the Horatio Alger Award and inducting them as lifetime Members. Horatio Alger Members support promising young people with the resources and confidence needed to overcome adversity in pursuit of their dreams through higher education. Through the generosity of its Members and friends, in 2020, the Association awarded more than $21 million in undergraduate and graduate need-based scholarships to 2,500 students across the United States and Canada, and provided college support and mentoring services to its Scholars. Since 1984, the Association has awarded more than $235 million in undergraduate, graduate, military veteran and career and technical education scholarships to more than 35,000 deserving students. For more information, please visit