Hall of Fame: Morgan County Sports reaches magic contribution number

·3 min read

Jul. 13—In August 1988, Decatur's Phil Garrison was reading a story in The Decatur Daily and it gave him an idea.

The story suggested establishing a sports hall of fame to honor those who have contributed to Morgan County through their athletic achievements.

Garrison's idea was to start a Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame and use it as a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Morgan County.

Now, flash forward 34 years. The Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame inducted its 33rd class in May. The newest members are Christy Thomaskutty, Mario Morris, William Booth, Stuart Allen, Greg Stewart, David Ogle, David Albritton and Cleveland Jarman.

Ticket sales for the banquet at Ingalls Harbor Pavilion set a Hall of Fame record at 525. The combination of money raised through sponsorships, the banquet and the annual golf tournament allowed for a record contribution to the Boys & Girls Club.

On Monday, the Hall of Fame board handed over a check for $32,000 to Patrick Wynn, President and CPO of the Boys & Girls Club of North Alabama.

The money, which will be earmarked for the three clubs in Morgan County, pushes total contributions since 1989 to $500,000. Not bad for an all-volunteer organization.

"When we started out, I never would have imagined reaching this total," Garrison said. "It's taken a lot of hard work by a lot of people over the years to reach this total."

The first Hall of Fame banquet featured Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden as speaker. The event at the former Holiday Inn was a sellout. Garrison remembers the first check from the Hall of Fame to the Boys & Girls Club being in the $10,000-$12,000 range. This year's contribution of $32,000 is an all-time high. The contributions over the years have been in the neighborhood of $20,000-$25,000.

The Boys & Girls Club is a special place to Garrison. He spent a lot of time there while growing up in Decatur. Over the years the organization has changed. It was once just the Boys Club. Then it became the Boys & Girls Club.

Morgan County has three clubs. Two are in Decatur on 3rd Street SW and Oak Park on 16th Avenue SE. There's also a club in Priceville. What was once the Boys & Girls Club of Morgan County is now part of the Boys & Girls Club of North Alabama. All $500,000 has been or will be used in Morgan County.

"The Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame along with the United Way contributions have been a lifeline for the Boys & Club in Morgan County," Wynn said. "I don't know if we would still exist in Morgan County without these annual contributions."

The success of the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame is directly tied to a board of volunteers who represent all areas of the county. Joe Bailey is the president of the board.

"It is with genuine appreciation that we express gratitude to those corporations, businesses and individuals who have supported the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame during the past 33 years," Bailey said. "Your generosity allows us to continue our mission."

Other board members this past year included Garrison, Caki Bolding, Rico Pickett, Earl Morris, Bobby Shuttleworth, Glenn Thompson, John Godwin, Mike Jones, Paul Henderson, David Elwell, Ricky Allen, Mike Tarpley, Harry Knop, Walton Ashwander, Ronald Grantland, Brandon Dillard, Lonnie Williams, Conley Duncan, Roger Ferrell, Ricky Bowling, Bob Sittason, Ben Garth, Matt Gourgeot and Nancy Keenum.

david.elwell@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2395. Twitter @DD_DavidElwell.