WASHINGTON, D.C., (Dec. 5, 2017) – 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 Don R. Daseke, founder, president, CEO and chairman of Daseke Inc., has been selected for membership in this prestigious organization.
Mr. Daseke joins 11 other esteemed business, civic and cultural leaders from across North America in receiving 2018 honors. For more than 70 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been annually bestowed upon admired leaders who have succeeded despite facing adversities, and who have remained committed to higher education and charitable efforts in their local communities.
Growing up in the aftermath of the Great Depression in a small Indiana town, Mr. Daseke’s family was always hard-pressed for money. From a young age, the value of hard work and perseverance was instilled in Mr. Daseke by his parents. At the age of nine, Mr. Daseke began delivering newspapers to provide relief to his family’s financial situation. Throughout his youth, he put in long hours working at his own ice cream stand, but was also expected to keep on top of his studies.
Mr. Daseke’s parents believed in higher education as a springboard to a more successful life. He received scholarships to attend DePauw University in Indiana and the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago. His gratitude for being awarded these scholarships evolved into his penchant for philanthropy later in life. These scholarship opportunities, along with lessons he learned later in business, gave Mr. Daseke his personal mantra found on his business card today: “Investing in People.”
Following graduation, he pursued several ventures, including starting his own real estate investment business. Mr. Daseke’s first real estate project brought him to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was constantly met with misfortune. The investment property was struck by a tornado within the first few months, and then followed by two floods within four years. He persevered, and continued to build his business from the ground up across the Sunbelt. His business success ebbed and flowed with the market, but he never allowed his professional failures to define him. Instead, Mr. Daseke rose above those challenges and continued to invest in – and grow – his company.
Ultimately, Walden Residential Properties was taken public in 1994 and sold for $1.7 billion in 2000.
Over the course of his career, Mr. Daseke’s entrepreneurial spirit allowed him to find success in multiple industries including telecommunications, technology, real estate and trucking. In 2008, Mr. Daseke founded his most recent company, Daseke, Inc., which has quickly expanded during the past nine years to become North America’s largest flatbed and specialized trucking company. In February of 2017, Daseke Inc. was listed on the Nasdaq Exchange (NASDAQ: DSKE), becoming the second company to be taken public by Mr. Daseke.
“Don’s life story is one to be admired and celebrated,” said Matthew Rose, president, Horatio Alger Association and 2013 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “His entrepreneurial spirit and unwavering resilience within the free-enterprise system have fueled his success in spite of set-backs and challenges. Admirably, he has continued to share his good fortune with others through his involvement in numerous philanthropic organizations. We are proud to induct Mr. Daseke as an Association Member, and we are confident that he will positively impact the lives of our Scholars as he has so many others.”
Mr. Daseke is deeply committed to his local community, giving his time and treasure to institutions and initiatives close to his heart. His alma mater, DePauw University, who awarded a young Mr. Daseke two scholarships, is his primary cause. He and his wife, Barbara, have pledged more than $20 million in scholarships to the University, where he has proudly served on the Board of Trustees for over 30 years. Mr. Daseke and his wife share a steadfast belief that all motivated young individuals, regardless of circumstance, deserve the opportunity to pursue a college degree.
Local initiatives benefiting from the Dasekes’ generosity include the Dallas Symphony, the Dallas Museum of Art, The Arts Community Alliance, the Dallas Zoo and the Cattle Barons Ball, benefiting the National Cancer Society. Mr. Daseke has served his home community of Addison, Texas, on the board of the planning and zoning commission, as mayor pro tem of the Addison City Council, and as president and chairman of Addison’s Water Tower Theatre. He was recognized in 2014 by Ernst & Young as the Entrepreneur of the Year for the Southwest Region.
“I am truly honored to be inducted as a lifetime Member into an organization that provides such meaningful support to such deserving students,” said Mr. Daseke. “Receiving a college scholarship was pivotal to my personal and professional development and being able to give back to my alma mater has been extremely rewarding. I am delighted that my involvement in the Horatio Alger Association will allow me to help provide even more young people with the opportunity to pursue a college education and fulfill their dreams.”
Through its members, Horatio Alger Association aims to educate young people about the limitless opportunities afforded to them by the free-enterprise system. To further this mission, the organization awards scholarships to outstanding high school students who are committed to pursuing higher education and giving back to their communities. Like Association Members, Horatio Alger Scholars have faced significant adversities, but have also displayed unmatched resilience in overcoming their challenges. Since the scholarship program was established in 1984, Horatio Alger Association has provided more than $125 million to students in need, all of which has been funded solely through the generosity of Association Members and friends.
Mr. Daseke and the Member Class of 2018 will be formally inducted into the Association on April 5-7, 2018, during the Association’s 71st Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The annual three-day event honors the achievements of both members and national scholars, affording both groups the opportunity to meet and interact, exchanging stories of hardships and triumphs.
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 2017, the Association awarded more than $18 million in undergraduate and graduate need-based scholarships across the United States and Canada, and also provided college support and mentoring services to its Scholars. Since 1984, the Association has awarded more than $125 million in college scholarships to more than 25,000 deserving young people. For more information, please visit www.horatioalger.org.