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Steve Vacendak - Hall of Fame Acceptance Speech

By Steve Vacendak, 05/21/17, 11:45AM EDT

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For me, there is no doubt that much of what this evening is all about is the recognition and appreciation for all the help, motivation, and direction I have received from so many outstanding and caring people over the years.

Good Evening –

I would like to congratulate my fellow inductees on becoming members of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.  They are most deserving of this honor.

The Hall has made great strides in the past several years under the leadership of Don Fish and Peggy Kelly, and it is happy to have Bobby Guthrie step in to help build on all that has been accomplished and all that is being planned.

Tonight is a time of wonderful memories, sincere thanks and sweet dreams.

For me, there is no doubt that much of what this evening is all about is the recognition and appreciation for all the help, motivation, and direction I have received from so many outstanding and caring people over the years.

Upon receiving a call from Sandy Sands about my selection, my first thoughts were of so many people back home in Scranton, PA that played such a prominent and important role in my future. And almost all of them are no longer with us – which is the bittersweet aspect of tonight. For their presence would be of such special meaning to them and to me.

But, when I think back – they did not help me because I was special – but because they were special. They gave of themselves and time from their families to help another kid who needed direction and motivation. The only thing I did was listen to them and follow their wisdom.

Without exception, they had my best interests at heart. For all I had to offer - was my best effort.

Tonight it is an honor to be recognized on their behalf.

For the last 11 years, as executive director of NC Beautiful, I’ve spent much of my time traveling across the state working with teachers to help fund their environmental education projects. It is apparent that this state is also rich with many people at all levels who are willing to devote their time and make personal sacrifices to help our youth. And they do so with no intention of personal gain.

I know this in many ways but it is also confirmed so close to home. My daughter Angie and her husband Jamie are special needs teachers in Durham, and he is a coach.  I cannot adequately convey to you all the time, effort and sacrifices they have made on behalf of their students.

That is why all of you young athletes present here tonight should be excited. You should look forward to the day when you can stand here and be honored. For you see - you also have many caring people willing to help you!

Dream this evening and it can be yours!

The value of athletics, although much more visible, still does not rise above the value of my education and life experiences. The selection to be in this Hall of Fame, I hope is a reflection on the balance we all strive for between both of those worlds.

I want to thank Coach Bubas, Coach Shabel, and Coach Waters for providing me with the opportunity to attend a fine university, receive an excellent education, and earn a college degree. Their influence has truly permeated much of my life. In addition, I want to thank them for the chance to become a teammate of some of the finest men I have known.

To my daughter Angie, who is present this evening, - to my son Stephen – the gratitude and love for all they have meant to me.

Finally, I want to thank my Mom and Dad - to whom I owe all.