Paul J. Hooker ’75 honored for advancing diversity and inclusion

paul-hooker

by Shay Carroll

In 1990, at a Little League game, Paul J. Hooker asked a young girl in a wheelchair how she was doing as she watched her brother play. Her candid two-word answer — “This stinks!” — made him realize how children with disabilities struggle to do everyday activities that able-bodied people take for granted.mia and dylan

But the conversation did more than enlighten him; it inspired him to do something about the issue. He launched the organization known today as RallyCap Sports, a program that enables people with disabilities to participate, at a non-competitive level, in sports such as soccer, basketball, golf and flag football.

On February 8, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business recognized Hooker by naming him a 2018 Influential Leader. The AACSB connects educators, students and business to achieve a common goal: create the next generation of great leaders by fostering engagement, accelerating innovation and amplifying impact in business education.

BGSU has been a longtime partner in Hooker’s work with RallyCap Sports. When he first wanted to expand the program beyond his community, he contacted BGSU’s College of Business dean, Ray Braun. Dean Braun connected him with Luke Sims, a business student specializing in marketing and entrepreneurship, to collaborate in launching the program on the University’s campus.ian kate and mallory

Today, Rallycap Sports flourishes at more than 20 chapters nationwide, 10 of which are at colleges or universities. Students become volunteer “buddies” to program participants, helping them to gain a genuine understanding of the challenges that people with disabilities face.

In addition to the direct inclusive athletics and recreational work done through RallyCap Sports, Hooker has helped create two playgrounds for children with special needs in Long Branch and Colts Neck, New Jersey. These facilities provide one of the most fundamental and satisfying needs every child has: the need for play.

“Each honoree from the 2018 class of Influential Leaders reflects the mindset, knowledge and passion that impactful business leaders must embody to impart positive change in today’s society,” said Thomas R. Robinson, president and CEO of AACSB. “We would like to thank Mr. Hooker for demonstrating the true excellence and leadership we wish to see in the world, and we congratulate Bowling Green State University for their role in helping to mold a new generation of global business leaders dedicated to driving impact that results in global prosperity.”