The 22nd Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Awards banquet was quite entertaining Tuesday night as Barbara Dooley, wife of legendary University of Georgia Bulldogs coach Vince Dooley, gave the crowd a song and dance.
Well, maybe just a song.
Dooley concluded her keynote speech with a rendition of Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called To Say I Love You," walking amid tables, greeting guests, hugging some and urging them to sing along and tell others they love them.
She admitted ending her speeches with the song is a habit that embarrasses her children, but her vivacity and energy brought nothing but smiles to those at the awards gala, held at Georgia Southern University's Nessmith-Lane Continuing Education Building.
The invitation-only awards event was born of an idea more than 22 years ago by founder Patsy Bobo, and named for Deen Day Smith Sanders, a renowned humanitarian whose late husband Cecil B. Day, a Brooklet native, founded Days Inn of America.
Dooley sprinkled her speech about service with humorous anecdotes about her family. Her spontaneous wit and lively delivery sent her message about doing for others straight home.
"I am so glad to be here," she said. "Gosh, I haven't been back to Statesboro in a long time! I am thrilled to be here tonight to talk to you about service."
Having an "attitude of wanting to give yourself, give back all the gifts you have received," is what makes the kind of people who deserve such honors as the Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Awards, she said. "Being able to walk ... to feed yourself ... being able to think ... all these are gifts that we take for granted."
She spoke about her grandson who has cerebral palsy, but "never has a bad day." He makes her grateful for what she has, she said.
When it comes to life, "self is not the most important thing," Dooley said. "Service is the most important thing."
Faith is also important, she said.
"You have to believe there is a plan for life," she said."Our faith tells us to love others and treat them as we want to be treated."
Love is also an important factor in serving others, Dooley said.
She read a poem called "The Dash," which points out that if you look at "born on and died on" dates on tombstones, there is a dash between the birth date and date of passing.
The poem emphasizes that what is important in life is not what you own or who you are, but what you accomplished and did for others during your life, or your "dash."
"I think everybody in this room could be extremely proud of how you spent your dash," she said.
Twenty-four citizens were honored with Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Awards. Three recipients from years past - Joe Bill Brannon, Billy Tyson and James Eli Hodges - were honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards.
Former Deen Day Smith Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Arthur Howard was honored as the 2010 Statesboro Herald Humanitarian of the Year.