He is a former major league baseball player turned successful entrepreneur.
Growing up on the South Side of Chicago Dorian Boyland said he credits his success to the many mentors he had during his youth. Now Boyland, along with a team of fellow friends and fraternity brothers, are paying it forward.
Last May while giving the commencement speech at the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh, his alma mater, Boyland did what he does best - give back.
“What I did was put my business card under five chairs of the students, graduating students and whoever got my business card got $10,000 a piece to continue their education as a surprise,” he said.
The element of surprising those less fortunate is what Boyland is all about.
“I’m full of surprises,” he said. “I don’t like to tell people what I’m doing I like to see the joy on most people’s faces.”
Boyland is a success story that came out of hard work and dedication.
After a brief stint during the 1970s with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boyland put his business degree to use in the automotive business. At one time he owned up to 22 dealerships throughout the country including his flagship Mercedes Benz dealership of South Orlando in Florida, one of the top black-owned car dealers in the county.
Boyland is now a multimillionaire, but says this could of all been very different if he didn’t have the right people around him.
“I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my friend, family and ‘Boyz for Life’ and fraternity, my coaches and my college coach,” he said.
“Boyz for Life” is a group Boyland founded, made up of his closest friends and fraternity brothers. There are approximately 70 members. He said it is that strength in numbers that allows them to lean on each other and support others .
Last month Boyland and dozens of members from “Boyz for Life” spent an afternoon visiting with detainees at the Cook County juvenile detention center.
“I’ve always said, ‘I can’t save the world but maybe there is one or two people here today that I can stay in touch with and maybe do some good,’” he said.
During his he said he exchanged information with a young man who expressed interest in becoming a barber. He said he looks forward to hearing from him after his release.
He views his mentoring as an investment in today’s youth.
“It’s important to me to know as any business man, it’s an investment on how you spend your money. I’m not going to spend a million dollars on advertising.
That’s not going give me a benefit,” he said. “So me writing a check or spending time or giving gifts, or bringing my friends and family or ‘Boyz for Life’ frat brothers here, we want to know that that’s going come back in droves as a benefit.”
Investing in Chicago’s youth has long been a tradition of Boyland’s. 10 years ago he surprised a group of Chicago teens with a trip to his home in Florida along with a promise of a car upon graduation. Last month, and in true Boyland’s form, he surprised the University of Wisconsin chancellor with a half million dollars in scholarships for 100 Chicago area students.
He has left his generous footprint around the country. After the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012, Boyland reached out to the Martins and has maintained a relationship with the family.
“I was passionate about the scholarship and foundation that they established in Trayvon’s name for education and school,” he said. “I have looked at all the kids sponsored and seen how glad they were to get the money.”
Although Boyland puts up the money for the scholarships, he is quick to credit the support he receives from his “Boyz for Life.”
“We lean on each other and like I said, there is strength in numbers and we support each other,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who has the most money. It is who has the biggest heart.”
And as easy as it is to write a check, Boyland says he has learned through it all the importance of commitment.
“Somehow, someway, I became this guy who became passionate about helping other and helping others quietly,” he said. “That’s when I started thinking I need to go back to the schools. I need to see people and give them an opportunity to get in touch with me and look them in the eye and say ‘I’m here for you.’”
Dorian Boyland – and his “Boyz for Life” - are Chicago’s Very Own.