Keynote address: Tracy Ham honors all recipients
In a down-to-earth speech that brought plenty of laughter, former Georgia Southern University football star Tracy Ham told guests at the 19th Annual Deen Day Service to Mankind Awards banquet Tuesday night that people serve others because that’s what Jesus did.
Ham spoke at the gala hosted by the Statesboro Herald and other sponsors to honor community members for compassion, dedication and service to others without expectation of recognition or reward. The 2007 ceremony honored 20 citizens with the Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Award; four people with the Lifetime Achievement Awards; and one, Kathryn Grube, with the Statesboro Herald Humanitarian of the Year Award.
First Southern National Bank President Tommy David introduced Ham and told guests how, when members of the Boys and Girls Club learned he was to speak during the event, asked him through a letter to visit the club.
Ham did so, taking time to arrive early in order to make an appearance at the club, David said.
“That shows you what kind of guy he is,” he said.
But Ham told the crowd he was in Statesboro again for “something far greater in importance than me.”
He spoke of walking around the campus of Georgia Southern University, noting the growth and changes. “I sometimes wonder, did I go to school here?”
He said he had been thinking a great deal about speaking during the gala and was “sitting in church listening to the pastor talk about Jesus” when he began realizing why people serve.
Jesus performed the ultimate service to mankind, he said. “He gave His life for me - a little ol’ country boy,” he said. “And it dawned on me .. why people give of their time and effort and want no recognition at all. Why do they serve? Why do they do that? It is because of what Jesus did for us.”
He said the Deen Day Service to Mankind Awards banquet is held appropriately just a few days after “Resurrection Sunday.”
He said he looked up the word “service” in the dictionary, and among several definitions, found “work done by one person or a group that benefits others ... and act of help or assistance ...”
Then he shared a story from the Bible about Jacob and how he worked three seven-year terms for Rachel’s father, “earning” two wives before he could win the younger daughter’s hand.
He likened Jacob’s dedication in serving for love to the award recipients’ “serving out of love.”
“I think that’s where we get our foundation from - the Bible,” he said.
Ham praised the honorees for their compassion, dedication, service and most of all, their time.
“To me, that is one of the greatest sacrifices a man can do is give of his time,” he said. “It’s not about money, not about status, not about a position, but you want to see somebody in a better place, in a better time.
“I thank you all for your service and for allowing me to be a part of ... your wonderful evening,” he said. “The whole community of Statesboro could win an award. This community has been one of the greatest communities I have ever seen.”
Ham, whose life path took him from being one of GSU’s greatest football stars, is now regional sales manager of XOS Technologies; is president of Hambone Enterprises, a marketing firm; and is vice president of TNT Enterprises, which specializes in ownership, development and management of commercial properties.Now living in Atlanta, Ham is married to Valarie Flippen-Ham and is father of two sons - Tracy Jr. and Caleb. He still attends Whitesville Baptist Church when he is in Statesboro.