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When University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumnus Thomas Oleson ’63, started Para Los Niños 16 years ago, he had just $100 and a desire to help poor children.

Since then, he has led the nonprofit organization on 45 trips to Central and South America to provide clothes, toys, and medical and school supplies to hundreds of children in orphanages, schools, communities and public hospitals.

Following Oleson’s view that education is the key to freedom, Para Los Niños establishes libraries in each school visited. The organization also built three elementary schools in Honduras to serve the Chorti Indian population.

Oleson will be among the nine UW Oshkosh alumni honored during Homecoming 2010 in October. He will receive a Distinguished Alumni Award for his professional and civic achievements.

An art education major at UWO, Oleson earned a master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation from UW-Stout in 1971. Following a 29-year career in vocational rehabilitation, he retired from the Lighthouse for the Blind in 2009.

He continues to serve as director of Para Los Niños, which received the Humanitarian of the Year Award in 1999 from the 23rd International New Thought Alliance.

In his own words …

Activities:

Oil painting, motorcycle riding and swimming.

Favorite UWO memory:

Football.

What does your UWO education meant to you?

The experience and education initiated my career path.

What advice would you give today’s UWO students?

It’s a great experience. Don’t waste it.

Learn more about Homecoming 2010.

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