NBC 24 NEWS
TOLEDO, Ohio (WNWO) — When Philanthropist Pete Kadens walked onto the stage at Scott High School Wednesday morning, students had no idea what he was going to announce.
The former CEO of cannabis company Green Thumb Industries said every Bulldog who walks across the stage with their diploma by August 15th will receive a free ride to college.
"I think for the first time in my life, I felt fulfilled that I had taken responsibility. To see them excited, to see them realize that their lives had changed, it just gave me a sense of pleasure and fulfillment that I've never had in my entire life."
Kadens says he chose Scott High School because it has been under served for as long as he can remember.
He is an Ottawa Hills graduate, and also recently donated a half million dollars to help build their new fitness center.
Through his organization, H.O.P.E. Toledo, he hopes to continue to provide for districts across Toledo in the future.
Each student that qualifies is able to attend any public university or trade school in Ohio, Eastern Michigan, or Lourdes University and will pay for none of the cost.
"People have a lot to say about Scott, and it's always bad most likely. So, for us to be picked out of all the schools, it was amazing. It was a gift from God, honestly," said Senior Avyanah Lee.
Kadens hope is that this inspires all of these students to work hard and give back to Toledo.
"A, they take advantage. B, I want them to persist in college or trade school. I want them to start and I want them to finish. Then, ideally, I'd love for them to come back to Toledo and create a more educated and more skilled workforce here, so that more employers want to come here. We can continue to try and create the renasance for in the community."
Wakeso Peterson is this year's Valedictorian at Scott. While he still hasn't chosen his next destination, he believes this certainly will relieve the stress on his family.
"It solves all of our money problems. We don't have to worry about that. We can worry about our education, what type of stuff they do there, and what it can get us."
His mother, Tanesha, will also benefit from the donation. One parent or legal guardian can attend a school within 45 minutes of Scott High School. As a 4th Grade TPS teacher, Tanesha hopes to expand her certifications.
Tanesha Peterson, Wakeso's Mother "In the last year, I've been trying to find a way to balance my job and go back to school, so this is surprising and I'm grateful for the opportunity."
If you have any questions about your son or daughter's eligibility, or would simply like to donate to H.O.P.E. Toledo, click here.
The organization says it doesn't care about GPA or criminal history, so all graduating seniors' families are eligible.
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