The secret is out. Sertoma is probably Fort Wayne's best kept secrets. Sertoma is an acronym for "SERvice TO MAnkind" and is an international organization. In the Fort Wayne area it has been in existence since 1955. Today, there are 32 members with two charter members still active, Charles Henry and Sam Gregory. Each one of the members of the club does whatever they can do to support children and families with hearing health issues and speech challenges. They also do their part in supporting other local organizations like Science Central, Fort Wayne Children's Zoo and Matthew 25.
Sertoma exists for the high and noble purpose of service to mankind by communication of thoughts, ideas and concepts to accelerate human progress in health, education, freedom and democracy, states their mission.
To achieve these mission goals the Fort Wayne Sertoma Club has not only undertaken a multi-faceted approach by launching their national program that addresses hearing and speech but they also sponsor and assist youth on the high school level.
Quietly yet proudly they give back to the community.
On May 2, 2011 at the IPFW campus in the Walb Memorial Ballroom a dinner was served and awards presented to honor local high school athletes. The annual Sertoma Awards Banquet began 56 years ago and was conceived by Hilliard Gates.
"Initially it included 5 area high schools and today the program includes every high school in Allen County," reported Mark Spade, program coordinator. "Recipients of the awards given go on to become leaders of the future in education and science; professions like lawyers, doctors, teachers. This award has often been called the Heisman trophy of Fort Wayne."
Master of Ceremonies Tommy Schoegler from INCnow, spoke of persistence as he addressed the award winners.
Referring to Peyton Hillis, running back for the Cleveland Browns, who was a highly talented recruit that tore up high school records in Arkansas, Schoegler said, "Life was going well for Hillis. Until...he was pushed back when Jones and McFadden stole his spotlight." Schoegler went on to tell about Hillis' outstanding persistence and character through adversity that kept him on track. He then worked his way in to become a #1 full back. He was drafted in the 7th round and played for the NFL Denver Broncos. Then traded to Cleveland Browns – was on the starting lineup and with his hard running, come-from-nowhere appeal and tremendous production had a great year. He didn't give up. Peyton Hillis was one of the biggest stars of the 2010 NFL season---ending up on the front cover of Madden Football.
"In your minds you feel like an All-World athlete right now." Schoegler's message to the athletes, "Life is going to happen. Changes may happen. Be goal-oriented and stay on course! Remember where you got your start and where it came from...that support...from your parents, teachers, coaches and guidance counselors."
Dick Florea (retired WKJG media) announced the winners, as Dr. Eric Jenkinson of Ortho NorthEast and Fort Wayne Sertoma Club President Rudy Rossi presented plaques to 18 of the area high school's top athletes. The qualifications for this honor were to not only be a top athlete, but also excel in academics and leadership. The school's coaches, athletic director, principal and guidance counselors decided who would receive the prestigious award.
From the Waynedale area-
*Elmhurst High School –
Yes, Elmhurst High School is still being recognized for their excellent academic and athletic achievements. Mark Sexton had an exceptional athletic career at Elmhurst all 3 years playing football, baseball and bowling. And, as well at North Side, his senior year. All three years at Elmhurst Mark was captain of the football team and as a senior, playing center, for the North Side team he was also selected captain.
Off the field Mark was 1st in his class every year at Elmhurst. He is a member of the Honor Society and was also involved with the Freshman Advisory Board.
Students at North Side voted Mark their Homecoming King. Mark said, "My transition from Elmhurst to North Side was not a big deal because I make friends easily and enjoy meeting people."
His strong classroom work has earned Mark to be in the Top 10% of his class at Elmhurst and currently at North Side he is #15 in his class.
Mark plans on attending Manchester College and pursuing a dual major in Exercise Science and Athletic Training, then, he will continue with a doctorate in Physical Therapy.
We salute the Sertoma Winner from Elmhurst High School!
Mark is the son of Roberta and James Sexton.
*Wayne High School -
James has been a 3-sport athlete for the Generals, with 4 years each in football, basketball and baseball. He was selected for the team Mental Attitude Award in all three sports. He is an Honor Society member, has tutored elementary students and volunteers with his church. He has earned the school's top departmental awards in English, Social Studies and Math...and has accumulated 54 credits, compared to the mandatory 40. He graduates as the Wayne High School valedictorian. James plans on becoming a doctor, and will begin pre-med studies at Indiana University. Stanley and Theresa Wyss are his proud parents.
*Bishop Luers High School –
William R. McManus
Billy's athletic accomplishments were in cross-country and track, earning Most Valuable Athlete and Team Captain in both sports. He was an All-Conference pick in cross-country. He serves as Student Body president at Luers, has been an Honor Society and Key Club member and has served as Freshman mentor and Peer Minister. His classroom grades have placed him on the Honor Roll all terms and he'll graduate in the top 20% of his class. Billy hopes to continue his running in college, attending Wabash College, to pursue a degree in engineering. This most deserving winner's parents are Michael and Mary McManus.
*South Side High School –
Hannah has been an Archer cheerleader, all four years, and a member of the golf team for three. She has been active in many other areas of school life, including the speech team, vocal jazz, the Honor Society, Key Club and the Mayor's Youth Engagement Council. An excellent student in the classroom, Hannah ranks 9th in her senior class and is planning a career in civil engineering at Purdue. Her parents are Chris and Dee Vosmeier. Way to go Hannah!
Even though the Fort Wayne Sertoma Club is one of the best kept secrets in Fort Wayne, there isn't any secret handshake or any political, religious or socio-economic affiliation, they are simply a group of men in the community who feel it's important to give back in some way.
If you are interested in attending one of the Fort Wayne Sertoma Club's lunches they meet at noon every Tuesday at the Rib Room in Fort Wayne. Public is invited.