Roger Grein was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1942. He was adopted by Frank and Thelma Grein when he was six months old. Frank was fighting in World War II when Thelma learned Roger had a disability caused by a birth injury, what we now know as cerebral palsy. The doctors told Thelma that her son was unlikely to ever walk or talk. Refusing to give in to the doctors' bleak diagnosis, Thelma became her son's biggest champion and functioned as his physical therapist.
Roger's parents taught him to never accept the limitations others placed on him. At age 5, Roger collected glass bottles, saving the pennies he made to buy a red Radio Flyer wagon. He used this wagon to expand his enterprise; collecting old newspapers he sold by the pound to the local recycler. At age 10, Roger had saved enough to buy a lawn mower and soon was cutting eight lawns a week. By high school, Roger had 40 regular customers including his town's mayor, principal and school superintendent.
Freshman year, Roger tried out for every sports team at his high school. He would often trip and fall, and wasn't chosen for any team. However Roger's efforts caught the eye of a coach who asked if he would consider helping out as the team manager. Roger accepted and served as team manager for every team at his high school. He never did learn to swing a bat, but the Water Boy Years set the stage for something bigger: a 36-year coaching career leading girls' softball teams to world championships and travels around the globe.
Roger graduiJ.ted from the University of Cincinnati in three years with a degree in Finance, and earned his MBA at night school. One of his former teachers helped Roger land a job at a local bank. He was soon fired because he was told he 'just didn't fit in.' Roger returned to cutting grass, asking clients if they would let him do their tax returns. Roger completed 25 returns that first year, his mother typing each one in their basement office. By the third year he completed 345 returns. In 1970, Roger opened his own tax and accounting business. He would go on to become the tax commissioner for three local municipalities.
Roger's business and reputation grew throughout the years. The boy whose mother was told he would never walk or talk had quietly become a millionaire many times over. Roger chose to give back to the community that supported him, and to date has given away most of what he has earned.
Roger is proof of how a community can lift a life from the lowest of expectations to the highest in achievement. His adoptive parents, his coach, his teachers, and the first customers who reached out to him; Roger calls them his angels. They extended a loving hand when they could have easily turned away.
Roger is testimony to what faith and persistence can do when you refuse to accept the limitations others place on you. During his many speaking engagements, he talks about persistence and faith in one's self More importantly, he talks about how all of us can make an extraordinary difference in the lives of others if we approach decisions with love and kindness.
In 2008, Roger founded a non-profit named Magnified Giving to educate and engage the next generation of philanthropists. Magnified Giving partners with local middle schools and high schools to teach students about philanthropy. The students volunteer with qualifying organizations and are taught to evaluate the benefit of the organization to their community. They then "grant" Magnified Giving funds to the organization of their choice. These funds are made possible by generous individual donors and foundations.
Students often cite Roger as their favorite part of Magnified Giving. His classroom visits and closing remarks at the end-of-year grant ceremonies inspire the students. One wrote, ''I've learned that it doesn't always have to be money to give away, but most importantly love. Roger Grein is a great example of that."
Roger's mission to make a difference in the lives of others continues with Magnified Giving. His legacy is the next generation of philanthropists; young people who will experience the joy of giving back now – and for the rest of their lives.