Statesboro resident Chad Wiggins was named the 2014 Statesboro Herald Humanitarian of the Year during Tuesday night's Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Awards.
"Man, what a humbling time," he said as he accepted the award. "My spirit is really stirring. How great is our community to have all of you who have such an impact on others around them."
The invitation-only awards gala was created by and has been hosted by the Statesboro Herald for 26 years as a way to recognize those in the community who selflessly give to and help others without a desire for compensation.
Billy Hickman introduced Wiggins, leading up to identifying the honoree by outlining several characteristics and acts that show Wiggins' "passion for helping others, caring for their futures, and taking action to make things better for them."
"The 2014 Statesboro Herald Humanitarian of the Year exemplifies this love for fellow human beings and devotes the majority of his free time to helping them improve their lives," he said. "He encourages area youth through coaching, volunteering hour after hour for the past eight years as he taught them the value of sportsmanship through football, baseball, softball and soccer programs with Bulloch County Parks and Recreation.
"He also spent every single Sunday afternoon for the past five years volunteering his time to supervise sports events for at-risk youth, sometimes drawing up to 50 people who met at the old William James (Educational Annex) gymnasium," Hickman continued. "The games always started with a devotional, as this man has a very strong Christian faith he tries to pass on to others."
However, Wiggins had to change tactics when many youth showed up late to avoid the devotional. He began giving the devotional after the games, Hickman said.
"One Christmas, he purchased 50 regulation basketballs and gave them to the young people who attended his Sunday afternoon games," he said of Wiggins.
Wiggins' family said he was more excited than the kids.
Wiggins coached a traveling baseball team for four years, "making sure the parents of some team members didn't miss their child's games by helping them with travel and hotel expenses," he said. "As a Christian role model and mentor, our humanitarian has always helped people find employment, took them to interviews and encouraged young folks to stay in school and think about the future beyond high school."
Wiggins was a long-time member of Statesboro First United Methodist Church, teaching the junior high Sunday school class. Later he became highly active with Connection Church ministry, "often inviting others to services and even taking them to church and for a meal afterwards," Hickman said.
Wiggins is the chairman of the Bulloch County Foundation for Public School Education, which helps pair grants and gifts with needs in expanding and enriching Bulloch County public school education.
He has also been an active in helping Ogeechee Technical College and Georgia Southern University with annual fundraising campaigns, is an alumnus of Leadership Bulloch and has been active in civic and community leadership for years. He is a past board member and past chairman of the Wesley Foundation, a board member and sergeant-at-arms for the Rotary Club of Downtown Statesboro, where he always includes a Christian message as he performs his duties. He is also a past chairman of the Bulloch County Chapter of the American Red Cross.
With a degree in finance from Georgia Southern, Chad has been with Sea Island Bank for more than 20 years and is the bank's executive vice president.
"Until I had a real encounter with Christ, I could be a pretty selfish person," Wiggins said. "This life is not about us - it's about being selfless. And the cool thing is, you all know that."
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414