Don Tocco Programs

Youth Enrichment SeriesHugh O’Brian Youth Leadership ProgramTocco Challenge

In addition to being a business leader, successful entrepreneur, artist and poet, Don is dedicated to helping others challenge themselves and lead rich, fulfilling lives. Tocco attributes his success to setting definitive goals that embody education, career, spiritual life, family, community and fitness. Having the right kind of attitude- one that is enthusiastic, cooperative and committed – is the key. Over the last four decades, Don’s self-development programs and presentations have been attended by thousands of young people and adults.  

Youth Enrichment Series

The Youth Enrichment Series (YES) was developed and initiated in 1988, after an elementary school principal heard a presentation to high school students by Don Tocco. Her idea was quite simple, yet profound: teach younger students the same character and success building principles. The five session YES program is specifically targeted toward fourth grade (and applicable to 4th through 7th grade) students, who according to child psychologists, are at a critical point in their lives.  At this age, children are shaping important beliefs about who they are and what they will become as adults.

YES specifically teaches students unchanging principles, methods and strategies about becoming stronger individuals by helping to raise their level of enthusiasm toward learning. YES reinforces what teachers and parents consider vital instruction to improve attitude and overall cooperation. Students are taught how to become goal setters. They learn the power of persistence in all important endeavors and are shown how to take bold steps toward developing their full potential.

Participating Schools

  • Bingham Farms Elementary – Birmingham, MI
  • Cranbrook Schools 
  • Brookside Elementary -Bloomfield Hills, MI
  • Elizabeth Little Elementary – Warren, MI
  • Edison Elementary – Madison Hgts., MI
  • Faith Christian Academy – Detroit, MI
  • Greenfield Elementary (2x) – Birmingham, MI
  • Halfman Elementary – Madison Hgts., MI
  • Hatherly Elementary – Sterling Hgts., MI
  • Heritage Elementary – Santa Ana, CA
  • Hillsdale Academy – Hillsdale, MI
  • Kenbrook Elementary – Farmington Hills, MI
  • Morse Elementary (3x) – Troy, MI
  • Parker Elementary – Royal Oak, MI
  • Peck Elementary – Warren, MI
  • Quarton Elementary (2x) – Birmingham, MI
  • Schoenhals Elementary  – Madison Hgts., MI
  • St. Hugo Elementary (3x) – Bloomfield Hills, MI
  • Warren G. Harding Elementary (2x) – Warren, MI
  • Wass Elementary – Troy, MI
  • Westwood Elementary – Warren, MI

Click here to download evaluation pdf.

HOBY: Hugh O’brian youth leadership program


The Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) organization conducts motivational and leadership training programs for some 9,000 American and international high school students each year. 

Don Tocco’s involvement with HOBY began in 1987 when he was invited to present the keynote address at the organization’s annual, national seminar, the World Leadership Congress (WLC).  His presentation was well received by Hugh, the HOBY staff, and especially the young leaders. Don returned to present the keynote address at the WLC for 23 years in a row  and has received thousands of letters, cards and emails from students filled with their life-changing stories and expressions of gratitude and appreciation.  In addition to his speeches, Don has donated and raised over a million dollars on behalf of this organization, making HOBY one of the most important causes in his own life.

Dr. Albert Schweitzer –

photo provided by the German Federal Archive

More About HOBY

The Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) was founded in 1958 by Hugh O’Brian, actor and star of the popular television series, Wyatt Earp. Mr. O’Brian was invited to visit Nobel laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer in Lambaréné, West Africa. He spent nine days talking and working side by side with the doctor considered by many to be the preeminent humanitarian of the 20th century. 

By age 30, Dr. Schweitzer had earned four doctorate degrees from Strasbourg University in medicine, musicology, philosophy, and theology. His passion to serve his fellow man led him to the jungles of West Africa where he established a missionary outreach that included a hospital to care for the local natives. Some reports say over one million people were treated at his clinic.

During their visit, Dr. Schweitzer told O’Brian,  “America is the point of light, and it is imperative that young leaders be developed there, to take on the challenges of the future. The most important thing these young folks can be taught is to learn how to think for themselves. This training should focus on high school sophomores who have the energy and the desire to help others, and take on important leadership roles.” 

Hugh responded by establishing HOBY, which now has alumni from over 10,000 high schools across America and student leaders from over 70 countries. More than 375,000 young leaders can now claim they are HOBY Ambassadors!

Burning Desire : Constructing Your Own Success DVD

This recording features Don Tocco’s live presentation for the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Congress at Ohio State University


I hope all is well. In 2006 I was at HOBY WLC. You gave me $500 to help start a martial arts club at my high school. That seed money helped me continue martial arts, and ultimately teach self-defense at a rural elementary school outside Monterrey, Mexico (with funding from my college alumni). I went on to become a Congressional Page, graduate from Yale College and start at Yale Law (this fall). I am the first in my family to go to college. Just wanted to say thanks for the leadership and motivation. Your nuggets of wisdom remind me 
  to keep pushing. Arete.



Krista Bryant - 20 Years After HOBY

“Since HOBY, I am continuing to set and meet goals for myself. I graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1991 with a degree in social work. I married my college sweetheart in 1992. I completed my Masters in public health at the Ohio State University SChool of Medicine. In 1996, just weeks before giving birth to my first son, I graduate with my Masters in Social Work. 

In 2004, I became the youngest Health Commissioner in the State of Ohio at the age of 35.

My life since HOBY has been filled with challenges and opportunities. I hope that the students you and Hugh continue to touch develop a firm belief that hard work, determination, and goals will lead them to success. And at the same time, they have to know that they have an obligation to use that success to create a better world for their fellow man.

Tocco Sports Challenge – Hillsdale College

Created to fund projects at Hillsdale College and inspire excellence,  the Tocco Challenge is an annual competition between Don Tocco and Hillsdale College athletes in a series of events that include basketball, baseball, football and tennis.  

2012 marked the 10th year that Tocco competed against some of Hillsdale’s best Division II athletes. Each athlete selected to compete against Don participated in their specialty sport and represented a different campus organization. Each campus organization received a portion of Tocco’s $25,000 donation with the designated amount determined by the performance of their representative athlete. 

Don competed head to head in each scored event against a student athlete. At stake for him: a trophy and bragging rights if he managed to beat the students’ combined total score. For eight out of ten years, this business leader earned that trophy while also demonstrating how maintaining a healthy body and competitive spirit contributes to a full and vital life. 

Presentation to The Charger Football Team – Kicking Off Their Championship Season – “A Winning Season – A Victorious Life”

2009 Tocco Sports Challenge at Hillsdale College