Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker will make an appearance in Statesboro next month.
The former running back at the University of Georgia and in the NFL, who is now a mental health awareness advocate and memoir author, will be the guest speaker at the upcoming Southern Christian Sportsmen’s Devotional annual fundraiser dinner.
The Feb. 20 dinner, to be held at Statesboro First Baptist Church, will be catered by Vandy’s Bar-B-Que and is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased at Claude Howard Lumber; for more information, call (912) 764-5407.
Southern Christian Sportsmen’s Devotional is a nonprofit Christian corporation, founded in January 2009 by Claude Howard, co-owner of the business bearing his name and an avid sportsman. Brother Bill Howard and father Arthur Howard are the other owners.
“I was watching a hunting show on television one day and went to the website advertised and saw a sportsmen’s devotional,” Claude Howard said. “It was located in the Midwest. I knew God was telling me I could do this for Georgia, so I started brainstorming. God was really talking to me, telling me that a weekly sportsmen’s devotional, written by sportsmen, is a great way to get Jesus’ word out.”
Howard shared his idea with other local sportsman friends and soon, a board was formed to get the project underway.
The mission of Southern Christian Sportsmen’s Devotional is primarily to provide sportsmen, both locally and worldwide, with inspirational devotions by way of email, “written by local Southern sportsmen who love Jesus and the outdoors.”
But the group also provides dream hunting or fishing trips to critically ill kids, ages 8 to 18. So far, the sportsmen have provided six dream trips for kids and a Wounded Warrior trip for two families.
Additionally, the outdoorsmen provide Bibles and “911 Cards” with verses from the book of Romans to anyone who requests them. According to Howard, 10,000 Bibles and 365,000 cards have been distributed worldwide.
Recently made available is a New Testament Bible that includes letters and pictures from two of the dream hunt recipients and devotionals from local sportsmen.
With 100 percent of the proceeds going toward the ministry of the group, Howard and other board members hope to have a successful and well-attended dinner.
And with Walker speaking, that should be easily attainable.
Walker grew up outside Wrightsville, Ga., and in high school, excelled at football, basketball and track and field. He scored a record-breaking 85 touchdowns as a running back and led his team to state championships in both football and track, while maintaining an A average.
At UGA, Walker set an NCAA freshman rushing record and helped the Bulldogs capture the national championship. In 1982, his junior year, Walker won the Heisman Trophy.
The following year, Walker turned pro, joining the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League. He dominated the short-lived, ill-fated league, earning Most Valuable Player honors and setting records.
After his first pro season, he returned to UGA and finished his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice.
Walker joined the Dallas Cowboys in 1986, where he led the NFL in rushing and earned All-Pro honors. He was part of the famous 1989 trade that sent him to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for five players and six draft picks who ended up becoming the core of the Cowboys squad that won three Super Bowls in the 1990s. He also played for the Philadelphia Eagles before returning to the Cowboys in 1996.
He retired from the NFL in 1997 as one of the league’s top running backs, gaining more yards than anyone in professional football history, counting his seasons in both the NFL and USFL.
In April 2008, Walker released his memoir, “Breaking Free,” in which he tells his life story, including being diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. His account testifies to the strength of the human spirit and the ability to overcome any challenge.