CHAMPAIGN – The owner of the sandwich chain Jimmy John Liautaud overcame his childhood struggles on the road to success, an organization set to pay tribute to him next year has said.
Liautaud, the founder of Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, has been selected to become a member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.
He and 11 others chosen for the organization’s 2018 honorary class will be officially inducted in a ceremony in April in Washington, DC.
The Horatio Alger Association is a non-profit educational organization that honors the achievements of exceptional people and encourages young people to pursue their dreams through education.
Liautaud was one of four children born to a Lithuanian immigrant mother and an inventor / entrepreneur / educator father. His childhood and adolescence included “roller coasters of ups and downs” and struggles in school. He finished second to last in his high school class, the organization said.
“Jimmy is a great example of the history of Horatio Alger,” said Matthew Rose, president of the association and winner of the 2013 Horatio Alger Prize. “He persevered through a series of adversities during his childhood. and eventually went his own way to create the life he desired. I think many of our academics will relate to Jimmy’s challenges and find hope and solace in the fact that he didn’t let these trials limit him. He believed in himself.
Liautaud founded Jimmy John’s with a $ 25,000 loan from his father and helped start his business by going door-to-door in dormitories at Eastern Illinois University offering free samples. Today, Jimmy John’s has more than 2,700 branches in 43 states.
Liautaud said he was proud to join the association.
“Like many academics in the association, my childhood was not easy, but the challenges I faced made me the man I am today,” he said. .
The Horatio Alger Association scholarship program created in 1984 has given over $ 125 million to students in need, with all funds provided by members and friends of the association.
For more than seven decades, the association has honored outstanding business, civic and cultural leaders who have succeeded after overcoming adversity and remained committed to supporting education and charitable work in their communities.