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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

‘Walking Aggie’ establishes endowed ring scholarship

Photo+by+Alexis+Will

Photo by Alexis Will

John Ball trekked over 2,500 miles with a purpose — to establish an endowed Aggie Ring scholarship. 

Ball, better known as “The Walking Aggie,” reached Daytona Beach, Fla. after leaving from San Diego, Calif. on Aug. 17 and raised over $27,000. His five-and-a-half month walk surpassed his goal to establish an endowed Aggie Ring scholarship through the Association of Former Students. 

Kathryn Greenwade, vice president of the Association of Former Students, said the endowment will generate around $1,000 in revenue each year of the university’s future, and the Association will be able to start awarding rings under the scholarship in fall 2016.

“It will be a ring scholarship that’s in his name, or The Walking Aggie’s name, and he’ll have the opportunity to meet that recipient,” Greenwade said “It will award one men’s ring each year or two women’s rings.” 

Ball said the progress of the fund raising largely kept up with the pace of his walk. Halfway through the walk, he had raised half of the $25,000 minimum set by the Association. Near the end of his walk, the fund raising even overtook Ball’s pace.

“Five days from the finish line, the contributions ended up going over $25,000,” Ball said. “It ended up being about $27,000 so far.”

By the end of the walk, around 350 donors had contributed to the final amount, Ball said.

Ball was a loyal donor to the Association of Former Students for many years through the Century Club and Annual Fund, Greenwade said, but as he prepared for his journey across the United States, he wanted to tie his walk to something special.

“The thing that appealed to him most was the Aggie Ring scholarship,” Greenwade said. “He felt like that would be something that would have a lasting impact and something that he could certainly get excited about and he felt like other people could get excited about, and they did.”

Ball said the Aggie Ring is the greatest symbol of Texas A&M’s tradition.

“I talked to other Aggies out on the road and one guy told me, ‘You know, my house could burn down   and my diploma could burn up and go up in flames with it as long as I have my Aggie Ring,’” Ball said. “There are people, honestly, that invite people to the Ring Day to get their ring that don’t come to graduation.”

In establishing an Endowed Aggie Ring Scholarship, Greenwade said the first step is meeting with the development office at the Association.

“To establish a Ring Scholarship it’s a $25,000 endowment that can be paid over time,” Greenwade said. “It does not have to be paid all at once.”

Today there are 43 endowed Aggie Ring scholarships. Some are designated for individuals within a certain field of study, while others are specified for student veterans. The scholarships can also be left open for anyone based on need.

Greenwade said the endowed ring scholarships help the Association fulfill the last two tenants of their mission — to perpetuate the ties of affection and esteem formed in a student’s college days and to serve the student body.

Ridley Briggs, Class of 1954, met Ball around 1980, and has since been a close mentor to him.

“He’s kind of like a son I have adopted into my family because I am just so proud of his past, his past in the air force,” Briggs said. “We’ve been close friends, I love his family — he has two daughters and I treat them as my own granddaughters and he’s just a very, very fine, outstanding, patriotic American and Aggie.”

Briggs isn’t only proud of Ball’s 26 year tenure in the U.S. Air Force, he’s extremely proud of Ball’s latest achievement of walking across the country. 

“I truly admire him for choosing first of all to accomplish this task of walking across the United States,” Briggs said. “But obviously, being an Aggie, I admire him even more for attaching that feat to a permanent endowment for the Aggie Ring.”

Ball said the experience wasn’t nearly as challenging as he anticipated due to the overwhelming number of helpful Aggies and non-Aggies alike, and that he couldn’t think of a single negative encounter along his route across the United States.

“Really it was an awesome experience, I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” Ball said “I would encourage anybody that has something that they want to do and they’re finding reasons not to do it, don’t look for reasons not to do what you want to do — just go do it, it’ll work out.”

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  • Photo by Alexis Will

  • Walking Aggie

    Photo by Photo by Alexis Will
  • Walking Aggie

    Photo by Photo by Alexis Will
  • Walking Aggie

    Photo by Photo by Alexis Will
  • Photo by Alexis Will

  • Walking Aggie

    Photo by Photo by Alexis Will
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