Riley Garbe awards first set of 'Riley Garbe Scholarships'

FREEDOM, Wis. A Freedom High School alumni surprises two current students with the first ever ‘Riley Garbe Scholarship.’

Riley Garbe hugs a scholarship recipient

Action 2 News introduced you to Riley Garbe in December. After a rough upbringing Garbe is now an elementary school teacher who graduated from UWGB with an 'Outstanding Student Award' after receiving a Phuture Phoenix Scholarship.

Growing up Riley Garbe was in and out of homes and shelters, but that never stopped him from having a great future.

"Challenges still continue with my family, dad and brothers in and out of jail, my brothers still struggling out in the streets with drug addiction, but what I've learned through all of that is to be tough, to be strong, to survive, to be a warrior, to survive and conquer each day one day at a time," said Garbe.

Bill Welter, a board member for The Brian LaViolette Scholarship Foundation was inspired by Garbe's story of determination. Welter named a scholarship after Riley Garbe to help other Freedom High School students going through a similar struggle.

"We saw a story on your channel about Riley and the wonderful success that he has been and such a caring and loving person and my wife and I said you know, that's the kind of person we need to acknowledge," said Welter.

The Riley Garbe Scholarship totals $20,000 in a span of 10 years, awarding $2,000 every year to a recipient of Garbe's choice. This year Garbe decided to split that scholarship and award two recipients instead of one.

Seven candidates were in the running for the scholarship.

"On the application I made it very clear that I wanted the essay question to be about what challenges have you overcome? Also, how are you going to use those experiences to go and spread love out into the world?" said Garbe.

"His love and his faith makes him a very special person, and I think it's important that we honor that so other people can emulate Riley," Welter added.

Two Freedom High School students, Taylor Witthuhn and Maya Kwasny had stories that really stuck out to Garbe. Both received the scholarship Sunday as a surprise.

"In those stories I really saw myself. I saw survivors and I saw warriors, and I saw two young people who are amazing leaders and they're going to go out and make a lot of differences in many people’s lives,” said Garbe.