The 18th annual Black Heritage Banquet/Gala showed attendees how to remember the past while continuing to aim to shape the future.
WWE Superstar “Titus O’Neil,” aka Thaddeus Bullard, was the guest speaker Friday evening and shared his life story with the audience. He talked about how he was told at a young age that he would either end up dead or in jail and the effect that had on his self-worth. He reminisced on how it took one person to tell him they loved and believed in him, then choosing to prove that time and again, to help him slowly realize he was a person who could do anything he put his mind to.
He shared memories of his accomplishments, of the lessons he’s learned along the way and then encouraged those in attendance to look around at the people in their life. If they see someone in need of support, they should step up and be the person that believes in them.
Following O’Neil’s speech, awards were given out by Plant City Black Heritage Celebration, Inc. to some leaders in the community. O’Neil received an Award of Appreciation. Pastor Shea Pennington received the Community Service Award. The Cornerstone Award went to Plant City United Pentecostal Church. The Humanitarian Award was presented to Commissioner Michael Sparkman. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to the Plant City African-American Law Enforcement Officers Past and Present and was accepted by Plant City Police Department. Clara Perry received the Heritage Award.
The title sponsor was Stingray Chevrolet. The City of Plant City was also on site and received a plaque for its sponsorship, as was South Florida Baptist Hospital and the Florida Strawberry Festival. The Hillsborough Community College Plant City Campus was also honored with a plaque that evening. The President’s Award went to Tanger Castillo. Steve Hurley, of Stingray Chevrolet, and O’Neil also received Global Philanthropist Awards.