Patricia Roberson got mighty curious Thursday as Mayor Bob Matheny reeled off a long list introducing Zebulon’s 2015 Citizen of the Year.
Matheny described a retired teacher who is a member of a society of women educators, the Zebulon Woman’s Club and of the Zebulon Beautification Committee, among many other attributes of the recipient of the town’s top honor.
Roberson thought to herself if someone had done all the things Matheny named, which were her own credentials, surely she would know about it.
“I was sitting there wondering, who could possibly do all this?” Roberson said. “It never occurred to me that it was me until (the introduction) got through the part about Zebulon United Methodist Church – and I thought about all those great women at my church who do so much – and then when he said she’s a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, I thought, I think he’s talking about me.”
Those who know Roberson know she’s as active as a 75-year-old could possibly be. She can commonly be found attending local civic club functions, working on beautification projects or trying to improve the Town of Friendly People any way she can.
“I do have a lot of energy, I know that, but people energize me,” she said. “I just have a passion for Zebulon because I was born and raised here. (The award) is very special. It means that something that I have done in Zebulon has made a difference.”
The presentation came at the conclusion of the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet, held at East Wake Academy.
The dinner event was an opportunity for chamber leaders to salute incoming and outgoing board members and others in the local business community.
Executive Director Denise Nowell returned the organization’s presidential gavel to Mike Almquist of US Foods, who agreed to stay in the position another year as the chamber transitions under new leadership.
Second Wind Computers owner Carnell Taylor was presented the Small Business of the Year Award, while the award for Large Business of the Year went to US Foods.
Debbie Beavers was named the chamber’s Ambassador of the Year. The Zebulon Rotary Club also made a special presentation of its Service Above Self Award to Tom Schmidt.
Johnny Evans, former NFL punter and quarterback and current radio sportscaster for the N.C. State football team, provided a gripping keynote speech for the event.
He told a story about his daughter’s past experience running the second leg of an 800-meter race, the first time she had ever run 400 meters at one time.
She was struggling late in the run after sprinting from the start, due to inexperience on the track. But as her teammate ran across the track and came to her side, she began to find new strength and hit her stride. She didn’t win the race, but she finished strong.
“She finished that race stronger than she started,” Evans said. “She finished that race for one reason and one reason only: she had a teammate to run alongside her.”
Evans drew comparisons between those teammates on the track and members of the local business community.
“In a way, you as a town and community of businesses called the chamber here in Zebulon are a team,” he said. “There is some competition but healthy competition is great, so long as we remember the bigger picture that we are running alongside each other.”