By Gilbert Hoffman
The North Channel Chamber of Commerce held their 42nd Annual Membership & Awards Gala last Thursday night. The event was held for the first time at a new beautiful venue, the Sylvan Beach Pavilion in Deer Park.
A crowd of several hundred enjoyed dinner, a silent auction, and chamber awards. A new board of directors was sworn in, and Chairman Shalonda Dawkins retired and Dr. John Moore was sworn in as the Chairman of the Board.
The featured speaker for the evening was Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson, but he almost didn’t make an appearance. After agreeing to Gala, he learned later that he had been chosen to play in the Pro Bowl football game, and would have to be in Orlando, Florida for the whole week, including the day of the Gala. However, Ronny Dwairy of Bestway Oilfield company made arrangements to fly Watson to Houston for the Gala, and then return him the same evening. Needless to say, it added some excitement to the evening.
Watson was his usual low-key and quiet self, but answered a number of questions from Dwairy and the audience as the format for his appearance.
Watson gave a brief talk about his life and previous football career. As one of four children to a single mother, he led a simple and sparse life, centered on family, faith, and football. The audience was impressed with his sincerity and simplicity. He made the point several times in his talk that “I live my life from Love. I’m a man of faith.”
Watson grew up in Gainesville, Georgia and helped his mother, who had tongue cancer. The lived in a Habitat for Humanity home, and his mother eventually got better. He did well in high school, and went to Clemson University for football. He finished in 2-1/2 years, with an outstanding record as their quarterback. His coach was the renowned Coach Davo Swinney, who taught him about life as well as football.
Watson said of Swinney, “He turned me into a man. He said Live right, football will take care of itself.”
At Clemson, Watson led the team to a CFP championship in 2015, and a national championship win in 2016.
Watson was drafted two years ago by the Houston Texans, but late in his first year tore his ACL, and did not play the rest of the season. In 2018 he also suffered an injury, a cracked rib, but continue to play for the next 9 games in the season.
Watson’s presentation was in the form of a question and answer format, with Ronny Dwairy asking a number of questions about his life, family, and football career. Then the audience had the opportunity to ask too. Watson said his role models growing up were Tim Tebow and Tom Brady, and he wanted to play for the University of Florida.
Watson was a popular subject for photographs after his talk, posing with the new Board of Directors, and many of the members of the audience.
After the program speaker, the Chamber presented awards. Christie Gates welcomed the audience, and presented the awards along with Chairman Sholanda Dawkins and Margie Buentello.
Awards presented included Board Member of the Year to Lon Squyres;
Committee Member of the Year, to Dr. John Moore;
Dr. Ed Lehr award, for service above the call of duty, to Adam Lund;
Business of the Year, to Alamo RediMix, and
Organization of the Year, to San Jacinto College.
The special Bill Palko Scholarship, worth $5000, was presented to Laura Delgadio, who is a student at San Jacinto College and plans to attend University of Houston for a Chemistry degree.
Closing remarks were made by outgoing Chairman Sholanda Dawkins, and incoming Chairman Dr. John Moore.
Gold sponsor for the evening was United Community Credit Union, other sponsors included CenterPoint Energy, Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital, LyondellBasell, PortHouston, Woodforest Bank, and Speaker sponsor Ronny Dwairy of Bestway Oilfield.