HeartcoR Solutions founder and CEO Larry Lawson, a Lamar University alumnus who attended LU in the 1960s and received the honorary doctor of humane letters in 2012, has been inducted into the prestigious Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education.
Alumni, faculty, staff and students gathered today (Monday, May 7) at LU’s Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship to recognize Lawson’s accomplishment. His inspiring story of going from adversity to a life of achievement that has touched countless thousands of lives led to his becoming one of only 12 national leaders selected for the honor this year.
Lawson, who grew up in Bridge City, is only the fourth person from Southeast Texas to achieve this honor in 71 years. Three of the four have had strong connections to Lamar University. Past honorees from Southeast Texas were restaurant founder and LU benefactor Tom Harken (honored in 1992), and LU Distinguished Alumnus, engineer and tech entrepreneur Jack Gill (honored in 1999). The fourth, long-time Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum, grew up in Orange, and received the award in 2013.
Lawson joined 11 other esteemed business, civic and cultural leaders from across North America in receiving 2018 honors. Alongside Lawson were his 2018 Horatio Alger colleagues musician and actress Reba McEntire, Jimmy John’s Sandwich founder James Liautaud, former Walmart CEO Lee Scott, actor Rob Lowe, and others. “Larry earned this recognition because of the success he has had despite facing adversities in his past while remaining committed to higher education and charitable efforts in his community,” Dr. Ken Evans, President of Lamar University said.
For more than 70 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been annually bestowed upon admired leaders who have succeeded despite facing adversities, and who have remained committed to higher education and charitable efforts in their local communities.
Born to working-class Texan parents, Lawson is the youngest child of three. Diagnosed with polio at age six, his family sought a second opinion, and he was later re-diagnosed with a serious bone deficiency. For the next six years following his diagnosis, he was required to wear a metal leg brace that severely impaired his walking and left him a frequent victim of ridicule. He learned at an early age that grit, determination and confidence would take him far in life.
He began his career in a creative space, writing and producing music. He grew up in Bridge City, where he learned to play piano at age 5, wrote music and copyrighted his first songs at 13, met Johnny and Edgar Winter and performed with them through high school. He extended his repertoire to clarinet and trumpet, playing lead trumpet in the Bridge City High School Band when he was recruited to Lamar.
Attending Lamar from 1963 through 1967, he was elected cheerleader, played trumpet with jazz and marching bands and performed throughout Southeast Texas. By his junior year at LU, Lawson was so active on the music scene that he decided to devote all his time to his bands and their success. That led to a career in music, including The Clique – which opened for most of the top bands of the era and was honored in 2008 with induction into the Museum of the Gulf Coast’s Music Hall of Fame. The Clique sold more than 5 million records.
Following his time working in music, he pivoted to healthcare, where he was first exposed to the medical device industry as a sales representative at Johnson & Johnson. As he navigated through his career, he learned the intricacies of the industry, eventually starting his first company, LifeMed, Inc., in 1983. From there, he continued to establish other medical monitoring companies, eventually focusing on cardiology. Today, Mr. Lawson’s latest project is HeartcoR Solutions, an ECG Core Lab that provides research and clinical trial management services to pharma, medical device, and biotech companies worldwide.
“It’s fitting that Larry works in an industry that specializes in the heart, as it is clear from both his business and philanthropic efforts that he has a genuine desire to help those in need,” said Matthew Rose, president, Horatio Alger Association and 2013 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “We are certain that his life story will have a profound impact on our Scholars and inspire them to rise above their own adversities. We are proud to welcome Larry into the Association as part of this outstanding 2018 new Member class.”
Lawson is an active member of TMCx, the Texas Medical Center’s Accelerator program, and GOOSE Society of Texas, an organization that provides funding and mentorship to startup companies in life science, energy, and emerging technologies. Throughout his lifetime, he has gifted scholarships and funds to various schools and universities, including a $1 million donation to the science and engineering department of his alma mater, Lamar University. He has also donated to entrepreneur centers and facilities for the disabled, in memory of his sister, who had spina bifida and was confined to a wheelchair her entire life. Lawson has received numerous accolades, including election into the Gulf Coast Music Hall of Fame for his tenure with The Clique, Ernst & Young’s, Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2009 and Houston Technology Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Health Sciences in 2017.
“As a child, I was fortunate to have parents who believed in me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams, despite the serious physical challenges I faced,” Lawson said.” Understanding that many of these Scholars don’t have this same type of support system to build them up, it is an honor and privilege for me to be a change agent in their lives. I am grateful that the Horatio Alger Association has welcomed me into this special organization so that I may continue to provide hope and opportunity to those who deserve it most.”