By: Shilo Urban
He pulls a business card out of his khaki cargo shorts. It says Will Lourcey, founder & CEO of FROGs: Friends Reaching Our Goals. Turn it over, and there is a picture of him in a suit and a bowtie with the quote: “Be a Doer…Not a Watcher!” Will is 12 years old.
A homeless man on a street corner caught Will’s attention five years ago when he was 7 years old. His parents explained that the man was hungry and asking for food. Will’s goal ever since has been to end hunger and inspire other children to make a difference, too.
Stats roll off his tongue, like one in four people are at risk for being hungry in Fort Worth, which is higher than the national average of one in five. One dollar equals five meals according to Feeding America, and 17 million children suffer hunger. He’s done the research.
He spent the summer after first grade getting his company off the ground. Will and 11 other friends had a goal to donate 1,000 cans of food to the Tarrant Area Food Bank. They exceeded their goal that summer by raising money with lemonade and popsicle stands.
Since then, Will has gone on to speak at events like “Count Me In” in Toronto to a live audience of 3,000 youths. It was streamed live to 108 countries, reaching more than 2 million people. He also spoke at the National Youth Leadership Council in D.C. to more than 1,000 people. Afterward, he went over his speech with Colin Powell.
Last year he transferred to a private school in Fort Worth because the public school system would not forgive all of the absences accrued on his “business trips” and threatened to make him repeat the fourth grade.
“He never sees obstacles,” Julie Lourcey, Will’s mother, said.
In his backyard, Will has a full Aquaponics food production system. You may ask, what the heck is that? The top layer is like any raised garden box but filled with small clay pellets sprouting a few pumpkins and bell peppers, but a roughly 100-gallon fish tank full of swimming goldfish sits below the garden.
Simply put, the goldfish excrement feeds the plants through some sort of system that pipes their waste to the plants while cleaning the fishes’ water. Will practices what he preaches — growing his own vegetables in a sustainable way and eating healthy while having fun. And a science experiment of this size is a boy’s dream.
His parents said he is always brainstorming, and they never get in the way of his big ideas.
“FROGs is 100 percent kid run. Parents don’t get involved. If you can keep the parents out of it, then kids can do amazing things,” Will’s father, Bill Lourcey, said.
Will and his young colleagues host a number of fundraising events every year with fun in mind — Dodgeball: Hit Hunger, Game Over, Hits & Kicks: Against Hunger, and so much more. At routine events like FROGs Dinner Club, he teaches children in “food deserts” about nutrition while providing them a meal. In late April, he hosted this event at the Boys & Girls Club and offered Cousins’ BBQ.
“Part of the time, I talked with them about what they like to do. They liked sports and having fun, too. We are all the same,” Will said.
Will’s Awards and Accolades
*All of the money he won was donated to fight hunger
2013 Youth Service America (YSA) – Everyday Young Hero
2015 YSA – Global Youth Service Day Sodexo Foundation Grant
2011 Kohl’s Cares for Kids – Scholarship Program Store & Regional Winner
2010 Scholastic’s “Be BIG in Your Community” – 1st Place Winner
2013 & 2014 –ABC YSA Summer of Service Award
2012 Huggable Heroes from Build-A-Bear
2012 CNN Heroes – “Young Wonder”
2014 Time for Kids – featured in “Hometown Hero” article
2012 The U.S. White House – For the Win: Frogs for the Future
2014 Sodexo Foundation Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Now Scholarship National Honoree (Regional Awardee in 2012)
2015 Charlotte Bacon Act of Kindness Award
2014 The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
2011 Association of Fundraising Professionals- “Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy”
2012 Hasbro Community Action Heroes
2013 Caring Institute – Caring Youth Award and Inducted into Caring Hall of Fame
2011 & 2013 Points of Light Award
2010 The Gary Patterson Foundation – Incentive Award
2015 Make Your Mark in Hunger grant by ConAgra
By: Shilo Urban