The Fayette County Chamber of Commerce — in conjunction with corporate sponsor McDonald’s of Fayette County — held the seventh-annual Groundhog Day Breakfast on Friday morning at the Mahan Building on the Fayette County fairgrounds.
Despite several inches of snow accumulation overnight, a large crowd gathered for an early breakfast at the annual event. Due to the weather, the event was slightly delayed but delivered a delicious meal and powerful speakers throughout the morning.
“An event like this is never the work of one,” Fayette County Chamber of Commerce President Julie Bolender said. “I would like to thank the board for their guidance and assistance, and the several phone calls this morning when I asked, ‘What am I supposed to do with this weather?’ I appreciate each and every one of you.”
Bolender continued by thanking the sponsors and organizations that assisted with the event. Among the businesses and organizations that sponsored the event or tables, Bolender thanked the Fayette County Agricultural Society, McDonald’s of Fayette County, the Fayette County Farm Bureau, Ohio’s Hospice of Fayette County, Walmart DC #7012, Miami Trace Local Schools, Washington Court House City Schools and Great Oaks.
Bolender also named and thanked the corporate investors, including “Platinum investors” Fifth Third Bank, Tony’s Welding & Fabrication, Huntington, YUSA, Valero, Merchant’s National Bank, Parrett Insurance Agency, McKesson, Fayette County Memorial Hospital, First State Bank and the City of Washington Court House; “Gold investor” W and W Dry Cleaning & Laundry; and “Silver investors” St. Catherine’s Manor, Beford Ford Lincoln, Court House Manor, LCNB National Bank and Southern State Community College.
Following a prayer by Tony Garren — pastor at Fayette Bible Church — and breakfast, the first speaker, Timothy McDermott, took to the podium. McDermott — who serves as regional business consultant for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation — talked about their efforts to save businesses money among many other topics. He spoke on the history of the organization and broke down roughly $10 billion in returns to Ohio businesses.
The second speaker, former Ohio FFA president Ryan Matthews, spoke about his time in the program and how it has shaped his career and future. Following trips to Washington D.C. and South Africa, Matthews talked about the impact of agriculture around the world. He emphasized how important agriculture — as well as farmers — are to the globe as they will be the ones to “feed this hungry world.” Finally, he said once everyone starts to find this appreciation, the world would be surprised where it finds itself.
Finally, the keynote speaker Shawn Harper took to the stage with his rags-to-riches story. After seven years in the NFL, Harper is now a husband, father and owner/CEO of American Services and Protection; a multi-million-dollar security guard and protection firm in Columbus. This is thanks to Harper “ripping the script” on success and shifting his mentality to a “winning” mindset.
“They teach us in life to be successful,” Harper said. “The word success did not work well for me. There is a problem with the word success, it is not static. What I mean is, you can be successful today and unsuccessful tomorrow. You can have a million dollars and live in Columbus or Washington Court House and do well. But you take that million dollars and you go to Manhattan and you may be above average, you take that same million and you go to Dubai, you’re poor! But winning is different, you see each and every one of us is born to win. This is why we watch sports and associate ourselves with winners.”
Harper continued by explaining his young life in a broken home and how he was labeled “disabled” with learning disabilities, which even resulted in his early education problems such as having to repeat the first grade. He said throughout his life it became an expectation that he wouldn’t amount to much, and the mindset wore on him and started to become how he thought of himself.
Referencing a story about a girl and a father at the zoo, the girl wondered how a 12,000 pound elephant could be held by a small, dinky chain on his foot. The father explains that from a young age, its trainers had it shackled and taught it that it can’t escape that chain. Harper proceeded to pull a chain from a bag on the stage.
“I was told Shawn, you’re stupid (Harper shook the chain), I was told Shawn, you’re dumb (Harper shook the chain), I was told Shawn, you’ll never amount to anything (Harper shook the chain),” Harper said.
Harper wanted to change these perceptions and he worked even harder to do so. Whether it was running exercises to increase his physical prowess or spending extra time in the classroom to graduate early, Harper gave it his all. This included writing a letter that he copied and signed 200 times to send to 200 different schools.
“Law number one: exposure,” Harper said. “Law number two: I said most junior college athletes graduate in two years, but I need to do it in a year and a half to be more marketable, the ‘law of separation.’ I took 23 credit hours in one semester, night classes every single week, to graduate in a year and half. Law number three: I call it the law of the 212. You see water is water at 211 degrees, but at 212 degrees its boiling water and boiling water will change the world. Most people are satisfied at the 211, but you have to go the extra mile. So I packed my bags in May of that year and went back to junior college in Mason City, Iowa. I practiced in the morning, I practiced in the evening, I practiced in the night when no one was there besides me and a guy in a wheelchair in the dorm room.”
Harper said he didn’t just play his second year, he was first-team all-region, included in the junior college hall of fame and received a full scholarship to Indiana University. He went on to be the third pick in the fourth round of the NFL draft, and following his career, he went on to run American Services and Protection, which he has now been doing for around 17 years.
“I want to encourage you though with what may be the last law: the law of all-in,” Harper said. “As business leaders and owners, you have to be all-in. And I am sharing this today because there is so much in life that is causing distractions, mainly things like social media and people’s opinions. People’s expectations. But when someone is all-in they are unstoppable. When a team is all-in they are unstoppable.”
To conclude, Bolender took to the podium to thank everyone for attending the breakfast and announced Bev Mullen as this year’s “Celebrity Guest Groundhog.” Unfortunately due to the weather, Mullen was unable to attend.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.