Herschel Walker said he’ll never forget the words his coach, Vince Dooley, spoke to him during his first day as a freshman on the University of Georgia’s campus.
“If we stay together, we stay as a team, we win together, we lose together, we will win a championship here at the University of Georgia,” Herschel recounted. “And, I carried that into everything I’ve done now.”
Walker, UGA football legend and three-time All-American, offered words of encouragement and a glimpse into his life during the Boys and Girls Clubs of Lanier’s Virtual Be Great Gala on Thursday, Feb. 11. The interview, which was pre-recorded for the online event, was led by Phil Bonelli, active community leader and motivational speaker.
Walker shared about how he was bullied as a kid and how he overcame his biggest obstacle –– himself.
“You have to fight through it (self doubts),” he said. “Don’t let no one outside try to penetrate your mind and tell you to quit … You have to fight through your own challenges, and that’s what I had to do.”
Walker credited his success to his hard work and determination to never give up. If he could give one piece of advice to youth, Walker said he would tell them to not say the words, “I can’t.”
“If you can see it, you can achieve it, but you’ve got to work at it,” he said. “That's one thing kids have got to realize is that it doesn’t come easy.”
Before Walker spoke, Steven Mickens, the clubs’ CEO, shared about how the organization has adapted during the pandemic to meet the needs of local youth.
“In 2020 we did whatever it takes, and we will continue to do it all over again, because our youth and our community are depending on us,” he said.
Jonlyn Forest, the 2020 Youth of the Year, shed some light on what the organization means to her and how it helped her realize the importance of being herself.
“The club is my place to feel loved, embraced and cared for,” she said. “I can be whoever I desire to be, whenever I want. And, that’s the one thing every person deserves.”
The Boys and Girls Clubs’ annual gala serves as a way to not only highlight the work being done at the clubs, but an opportunity to raise money for its many youth enrichment programs.
To donate, visit boysgirlsclubs.com/donate.