Leading By Example

When he was just 25 years old, Kramer Endres ’17 became the youngest donor to pledge an estate gift to the UW Foundation. Now 26 and generous beyond his years, Enders forged a connection with the UW even before he became a Badger. He grew up on Lake Wisconsin and was diagnosed early in his life with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, undergoing many surgeries and procedures at the UW Hospital and Clinics. Despite his physical challenges, Endres was not deterred from his long-term goals.

“As a young kid, I always liked being able to try new things and become more independent,” Endres shares. “My family and close friends were very supportive and encouraged me.”

A childhood love of math and science led him to pursue a degree in actuarial science at the Wisconsin School of Business. Maneuvering through college can be challenging on its own, but when one’s main source of mobility is a power wheelchair, campus resources become even more vital. Still, Endres remains deeply grateful for all of the opportunities he had as a UW student, including getting involved with student organizations like Advocates for Diverse Abilities, going to Adapted Fitness classes, or seeking accommodations from the McBurney Disability Resource Center. Those experiences led him to commit to a $25,000 bequest, one that he hopes will grow much larger with time, in support of the McBurney Disability Resource Center.

“It’s important to me and my family to have a strong financial core, and a big part of that is giving back.”

Kramer Endres

“I was fortunate to receive several scholarships and grants,” Endres says. “They were instrumental in helping me through school. At the heart of many of these scholarships was the McBurney Center.”

The McBurney Center opened in 1977 with a focused mission to “lead the campus forward in access for students with disabilities.” It was a transformative resource for Endres during his time at the UW, simplifying his transition from high school and setting him up for success. He is deeply grateful for the kind, hardworking people there who helped improve his college experience. Today, the McBurney Center works with more than 2,600 people each year, partnering with students, faculty, staff, and student organizations to make campus more accessible and equitable for all Badgers.

Empowering Future Generations

To this day, Endres appreciates the sense of community that he experienced while at UW–Madison and the many opportunities to learn, to collaborate with his peers, and to evolve as an individual. Some of his favorite memories are connected to UW sports; he attended more than 70 athletic events in his four years and remains an avid Badgers fan. Since graduating in 2017, Endres has enjoyed success working as an actuarial analyst with Rural Mutual Insurance Company. During that time, he began to consider the legacy he wanted to leave.

“I am currently healthy and plan on living many happy years; but with my disability, I don’t know what the future holds — it’s important to me to have something in place. Creating a scholarship to benefit college students with disabilities can go a long way in helping them graduate and move toward more independence, while also having a great journey at the UW,” he says.

Endres approaches his life as well as his physical challenges with a clear and thoughtful perspective. “I am fully independent and enjoy doing just about anything a nondisabled person can do: cooking, fishing, rock climbing, skiing, and working a full-time job,” he says. “I think independence and experiences are a big component of someone’s life. I hope I can help someone with a disability make more gains in these two areas.”

It was that mind-set, along with his family’s core philanthropic values, that initially inspired Endres, and he hopes to pass some of that inspiration on to other members of the UW community.

“You are never too young to start planning your estate or start thinking of ways you can give back. As someone who is an advocate for personal financial success and independence, giving back is a great way to show your support to others and help them in times of need,” Endres shares. “I’m very thankful for the opportunities I have been given over the years and want to see other people with disabilities go out and enjoy the many things life has to offer.”

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