At the Rotary District Conference on May 13, 2016, I was honored by being named the recipient of the Brent Williams Spirit of Rotary Award. The award is inscribed as follows: “The Brent Williams Spirit of Rotary Award is presented in recognition of your many years of exemplary service to Rotary and its worldwide family. Your perseverance, dedication and commitment to service in helping others has set the highest standard for others to follow. You truly exemplify the Spirit of Rotary.”
This award has a very special meaning to me as it was created in honor of my dear friend and fellow Rotarian, Past District Governor, Brent Williams, who passed away in February of this year. They named this award aptly, as Brent not only had the Spirit of Rotary - he was a manifestation of the Spirit of Rotary!
I was humbled and touched to get an award with my friend’s name on it. He influenced me greatly in my service to Rotary and was often by my side doing the hard work. Over the years, I did things like coordinating disaster relief after Hurricanes Charley, Jeanne and Francis, cooking thousands of meals for first responders and victims of Hurricane Katrina, building homes in Thailand for tsunami victims, helping out with our local Rotary Rebuild and conducting numerous auctions for Rotary Clubs in Florida and North Carolina. On many of these occasions, Brent was by my side wielding a chainsaw, serving meals and helping with auctions. I felt rewarded by the good feeling that came from sharing my time, energy and talents and I felt good having people like Brent who were there with me sharing the load and making the tasks more fun.
Of all I’ve done in service, the most rewarding times were when I was assisting my late friend Brent Williams as he dealt with ALS. We were always close, but we became even closer in his last years. I came to know that each moment is precious and, accordingly, didn’t take any moment we had together for granted. While I did spend a fair amount of time with him, my life was enhanced greatly from the good feeling I got from doing so. Helping him gave me something positive to do for a friend who was in an impossible situation. I couldn’t change the outcome, but I could assist him and help to make his life happier in the moments we were together.
Walt Disney once said, “The greatest moments in life are not with achievements but rather with the things we do for those we love and esteem.” And it’s true. I am so honored to have gotten the Brent Williams Spirit of Rotary Award, but the real reward was in being of service to others and especially to my dear friend, Brent.