Frank VanderSloot is joining some pretty elite company.
He now can say he has something in common with presidents such as Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, former hockey star Wayne Gretzky, country music icon Johnny Cash and Buzz Aldrin, the second person to set foot on the moon.
VanderSloot is a recipient of the Horatio Alger Award; so were the aforementioned men.
“I don’t measure up,” VanderSloot said. “I’ve seen that list also, and I don’t hold a candle to those guys.”
The Melaleuca CEO is one of 12 people who will receive the award for 2015 in Washington D.C. next year. He and the others join a group of more than 200 living recipients. VanderSloot is just the fourth Idahoan ever selected for the award. He joins Albertsons CEO Robert Miller, Duane B. Hagadone, founder, president and CEO of the Hagadone Corp., and the late Warren E. McCain, a former Albertsons CEO and chairman of the board.
The award is given out by the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Inc. It recognizes those who have come from humble backgrounds and later use their success to do good, specifically with higher education. The association is not politically affiliated and being politically active is not a requirement for recipients. To date, 707 people have received the award.
The Horatio Alger Association is involved with awarding scholarships to strong students coming from an impoverished background. The association has given more than $100 million in scholarships in the past 30 years, spokeswoman Meg Kane said in an email.
Horatio Alger Jr., who lived from 1832 to 1899, wrote extensively about poor, young men pulling themselves up by their bootstraps to realize the American dream. The Horatio Alger Association was founded in 1947 to recognize those who have risen past poverty to achieve remarkable success; and to provide higher education scholarships for those who are candidates to do the same.
VanderSloot said he doesn’t know exactly why he was picked for the award, but knows it has something to do with his background growing up on a farm in northern Idaho as the son of a railroad worker. VanderSloot worked to put himself through college at Brigham Young University and today heads a business with a reported $1.2 billion in annual revenue.
“I’ve been really, really fortunate,” VanderSloot said.
It was VanderSloot’s rags-to-riches story, along with his dedication to philanthropy, that earned him the award, Kane said.
VanderSloot said he still is learning about what his connection with the Horatio Alger Association will be going forward, but excited to see it play out.
“It’s something new to me, but I’m thrilled to be able to be a part of it.” he said.