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True Grit speaker has what it takes

November 19, 2006|by TONY MULIERI

It's not easy finding someone to come to Hagerstown to speak at the True Grit Awards banquet each year.

Our committee starts practically the day after the event ends to find a speaker for the following spring. Some people you would like to have are just too busy, and many others want way too much money to appear for a couple of hours.

Since the banquet was resurrected a few years ago, we've been lucky with three good speakers. Former University of Maryland and NBA star Adrian Branch spoke three years ago. Then, we had TV news reporter Kelly Wright two years ago. Last spring, we had Nelson Lauver, aka "The American Storyteller."

The True Grit committee tries to find someone who has overcome some obstacle in life since that's what the True Grit Award is all about. The award is given to local athletes who might not be the stars of their teams, but have beaten the odds to remain members of those teams.

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Former Hagerstown City Councilman N. Linn Hendershot has agreed to be our speaker next May.

Sometimes, the answer is right under your nose.

Our committee leader, Frank Erck, saw a letter to the editor about Hendershot prior to our October get-together, and suggested we invite Hendershot to speak. The letter by Sharon Washington of Hagerstown was assuring readers that Hendershot's health would not hinder him from becoming an effective Washington County Commissioner if elected.

Hendershot is wheelchair bound from a bout with childhood polio.

In part of her letter, Washington wrote, "During the four years he was on the Hagerstown City Council, he missed two meetings, attending more than any other councilmember and was very instrumental in bringing about key positive changes to the City of Hagerstown."

In another excerpt, she spoke of Hendershot's sense of humor: "Once I heard someone ask about his health and he commented that his goal in life was to wear out before he rusted out. He also joked to a nurse at the hospital that in his 60 years he'd had some 43 doctors who all told him to slow down. He smiled and informed her that 31 of those doctors were dead."

About Hendershot's career, she wrote, "Since that childhood polio, Hendershot has earned a degree from the University of Maryland from the College of Business and Public Administration, was the sports information director at Bucknell University, public relations director with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, was the PR director of the United States Auto Club/Indianapolis 500, executive manager of NASCAR, marketing director of Motorsports Marketing, a subdivision of NASCAR and on and on and on."

And apparently, when Linn was asked to speak at the True Grit banquet, he was visibly moved and accepted readily.

We're glad he did.

Tony Mulieri is managing editor of The Daily Mail. He may be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7647, or by e-mail at tonym@herald-mail.com.

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