He realized during that trip that he was about the same age as his mom when she returned to college. Lois returned to UCF in her forties to pursue a degree in communications.

“Somewhere out in Oregon, it struck me how incredibly determined she was to earn a degree,” Gary recalls. “She worked, raised five kids, and still had the passion to attend classes, study, and graduate.”

Determined to raise money to create a scholarship, Gary decided to auction off the dedication page to the third edition of his latest book, Great American Motorcycle Tours. The auction was successful and allowed him to start the process of creating the annual scholarship.

Parents who return to college after raising children are the focus of the Lois Mercier McKechnie Working Parents’ Scholarship. “It’s hard enough completing college after high school – doing it later while working and raising kids is even harder,” says Gary.

The scholarship is funded each year by Gary and his friends and family. The goal is to have it reach the endowed level so that it is self-sustaining. “I wanted to do this for my mom, but also for other working parents who have the same kind of passion she had to complete their college degrees,” says Gary.