For longtime Aspen residents Daylene and Gary Lichtenwalter, contributing to The Aspen Promise reflects their lifelong commitment to education--and their desire to give back to the community they love.  

“We love the school system and really value the teachers’ support throughout the years,” said Daylene.

Daylene and Gary both recall a conversation they had one evening that seemed to crystallize their vision to do something special for the Aspen School District. “We decided we wanted to give to the children of this community and assist students on their path to college,” explained Daylene. The couple reached out to AEF to discuss the possibility of creating scholarships for AHS graduates, and The Aspen Promise scholarships began to take shape.

Daylene and Gary both value the role that education has played in their own lives. Daylene, who graduated from Maryville College in St. Louis, noted that her parents scrimped and saved so that she and her siblings had the opportunity to attend college.

A graduate of Joliet Township High School and Joliet Junior College, Gary found inspiration as a student from a quote by the Greek philosopher Diogenes, which was emblazoned on a wall in his school: “The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.” Gary also graduated from the University of Illinois, where he was a scholarship recipient. That experience became the basis for his decision to establish a family foundation that would create scholarship opportunities for students.

Daylene and Gary have created four The Aspen Promise scholarships in their sons’ names, (in addition to one in their names) with the hope that their sons continue the family tradition of education and philanthropy as they grow older. Both acknowledge that The Aspen Promise scholarships will be game changers for the students who receive them.

“If we don’t educate kids for the future, what future is there?” asked Gary. “I do hope that The Aspen Promise scholarship recipients know that people are caring for them and rooting for them to finish their education. We hope and dream that these kids persevere because these opportunities will give them a step up in the world.”