Inspirational evening celebrated by Greer Chamber

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Friday, January 18, 2013

Inspirational was the keyword at the 75th Annual Greer Chamber of Commerce dinner tonight at the Embassy Suites in Greenville.

Sgt. Chad Richardson of the Greer Police Department was the recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Award, two Greer area soldiers were posthumously honored for the Citizenship and Service Award and keynote speaker Craig Dietz delivered a poignant and humorous talk on overcoming Tetra-amelia syndrome (born without limbs.)

Bunny Richardson was presented the Sen. J. Verne Smith Award for leadership and service to the Greer Chamber and Anna Locke received the Chairman’s Award for exemplary contribution.

Rudy Painter described Richardson as “having a servant’s heart. We who have won the award (Painter was honored in 1996) understand what it means to give back. (Richardson) was extremely visible at the Chamber and all its events. Despite all the circumstance he truly loves the job.”

Greer Police Chief Dan Reynolds and Lt. Jim Holcombe invited Richardson to the event. “It’s been real hard to keep it from Chad. We’ve wanted to tell him since we found out but couldn’t,” Holcombe said. “We’re proud of Chad.”

The families of Ross and Hicks were present to receive their sons’ honors. Earlier in the day Hicks’ father, Chan, said he received an American flag from Sen. Lindsay Graham that that flew over the Capitol.

Ross was killed in action last July 24 and Hicks was killed Nov. 16. “We all lost a soldier but gained a hero,” Chamber President and CEO Allan Smith said. The families were given a standing ovation.

Bunny Richardson, former Communications Specialist at BMW Manufacturing Co., in Greer, received the Verne Smith Award, symbolic of being an advocate for all things Greer. Richardson has served on virtually every board and committee at the Greer Chamber.

Locke, President of A.T. Locke, an accounting firm, was recognized for her sustained service to the chamber and community.

Dietz held a conversation-like talk sharing his life story of “not allowing the challenges I face define who I am.”

He captivated the over 400 in attendance describing how he embraced his high school and college days. He explained sports – bowling, hunting, snow skiing and swimming – were an avenue to challenge himself outside of his norm.  “I had three goals in sports: I wanted to learn something, I wanted to do it faster the second time and I wanted to accomplish everything I could. For each activity I wanted to push harder.”

Dietz said he didn’t realize he had a disability growing up and credited his mother in steering him to a positive life. “My mother never coddled me. She encouraged me to do difficult things by  finding a way to get them done myself,” Dietz said. “I have never viewed myself with a disability.

“Mom had one very big expectation for me since the day I was born,” Dietz said. “I would meet my potential as a person. She told me to take control of my circumstances every day.”

Dietz told the audience, “Never compare yourself to the best others can do, but what you can do.”

Bill Roughton, 2013 Chamber Board Chair, was passed the gavel by outgoing board chair John Mansure.

Rosylin Weston, Vice President of Communications for the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport District, was the emcee.

The award winners:

• Sud Paget Volunteer of the Year: Sgt. Chad Richardson of the Greer Police Department. Sponsored by Countybanc.

• Duke Energy Citizenship & Service Award: Pfc. Adam Ross and Sgt. Channing “Bo" Hicks posthumously.

• Sen. J. Verne Smith Award: Bunny Richardson. Sponsored by Keith and Donna Smith.

• Chairman’s Award for Excellence: Anna Locke.  Sponsored by C. Dan Joyner Co., REALTORS.


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