South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame Announces Recipients of 2019 Special Awards

For immediate release: April 9, 2019

Contact: Ephraim Ulmer, 803/779-0905

Andy Solomon, 843/209-4723

COLUMBIA, SC – South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame President Dr. Tripp Jones has announced that the late Julian Smith of Charleston, Bob Gillespie of Orangeburg and Kay Fortune of Columbia will be honored for their various contributions to Palmetto State sports when the organization hosts its 59th annual banquet and induction ceremony on May 13 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

Smith, the past director of the Cooper River Bridge Run will be honored with the Willie Jeffries Ambassador for Sports Award that is sponsored by Defender Services. Gillespie, a veteran Palmetto State sportswriter, will be recognized with the Herman Helms Excellence in Media Award while Fortune, the SCAHOF’s first female president and longtime board member, will receive the Dom Fusci Leadership in Action Award that is sponsored by Founders Federal Credit Union.

The three will be recognized in addition to the new inductees of the SCAHOF Class of 2019 which includes Clemson kicker Chris Gardocki, USC and College of Charleston women’s basketball coach Nancy Wilson of Lake City, USC defensive lineman John Abraham of Lamar High, Clemson baseball All-American Shane Monahan, linebacker Dexter Coakley of Mt. Pleasant and Appalachian State, USC-Aiken and former major league pitcher Roberto Hernandez, and high scoring basketball standout Miriam Walker-Samuels of Claflin College.

Tickets (table of eight for $600) and program sponsorships are available by calling the SCAHOF office at 803/779-0905 or through The event, which includes a reception and dinner, begins at 5:30 p.m.

Willie Jeffries Ambassador for Sports Action Award

Julian Smith, Charleston

Julian Smith served as the director of the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston and Mt. Pleasant from 1994-18 and was the driving force behind making this World Class 10K road race the third largest in the country and 11th in the world. After graduating from Charleston Southern University, the native Charlestonian accepted an administrative role at the Medical University of South Carolina and eventually became the hospital’s wellness director.

That was his job in 1994 when he took over the Bridge Run. It was the 17th annual event that year and boasted about 7,400 runners, including Oprah Winfrey who was featured in Runner’s Magazine. The run peaked in 2006 at 45,663 runners, but has since scaled back to a 40,000 limit.

Under Smith’s leadership, the run, which featured its 42nd anniversary on April 6, has a total economic impact of approximately $30 million as 65 percent of participants are from out of state. Many state and local agencies utilize the event as a high-security drill for emergency situations.

He passed away on March 22, 2019.

Willie Jeffries Ambassador for Sports Award

2019 – Julian Smith, Charleston

2018 – Sam Wyche, Greenville

2017 – Fisher DeBerry, Isle of Palms

2016 – Not awarded

2015 – Dawn Staley, Columbia

2014 – Mike Veeck, Charleston

2013 – John Rhodes, Myrtle Beach

2012 – Steve Wilmot, Hilton Head Island

2011 – Ray Tanner, Columbia

Herman Helms Excellence in Media Award

Bob Gillespie, Orangeburg

In 1976, Bob Gillespie began his professional journalism career and it continues today. His first newspaper opportunity came as sports editor at his Orangeburg hometown’s Times & Democrat, working his way to The (Charleston) News & Courier (now Post & Courier) before moving to Columbia and making more of an impact on sports fans in the Palmetto State.

He moved to The Columbia Record in 1979, and shifted to The State in 1988 when The Record was discontinued. He retired in January 2010, spending more than 30 years with The State Media Company.

While in Columbia, Gillespie was a sports reporter, beat writer, columnist and Senior Writer, focusing on long-form features and in-depth stories during his last 10 years at The State. He was also the newspaper’s golf writer from 2000-10, and covered 31 Masters Tournaments with three newspapers, plus 42 (and counting) RBC Heritage tournaments.

Gillespie has captured many S.C. Press Association first-place writing awards, including the SCPA “triple crown,” winning first place in columns, features and news (spot sports) in the same year. He twice finished second nationally in the Associated Press Sports Editors national competition (2001 for feature stories, 2009 for explanatory stories). He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA) and the S.C. Golf Course Ratings Panel, which annually ranks golf courses in South Carolina.

A graduate of Orangeburg High, Gillespie was a journalism major at the University of South Carolina and later added a Master’s degree from USC.

Herman Helms Media Excellence Award

2019 – Bob Gillespie, Orangeburg

2018 – Phil Kornblut, Latta

2017 – Not awarded

2016 – Bob Spear, Columbia

2015 – Warren Peper, Charleston

2014 – Rick Henry, Columbia

2013 – Ken Burger, Charleston

2012 – Bill Hamilton, Orangeburg

2011 – Ron Morris, Columbia

Dom Fusci Leadership in Action Award

Kay Fortune

SCAHOF Board Member, Columbia

As Director of Sales for the Blue Marlin Signature Catering, Kay Fortune has been a staple of the SCAHOF’s board of directors for many years.

As the first female president of SCAHOF, Fortune was raised in Lancaster, where the most prominent outlet for entertainment was high school athletics. Kay’s love for sports continues to this day.

She moved to Columbia and graduated from the University of South Carolina in Journalism, worked in political affairs and government for many years before heading off to pursue the passion of food preparation and entertaining. She enjoys spending time volunteering with local outreach programs, especially those involving food service and distribution of food to folks in need.

Dom Fusci Leadership in Action Award

2019 – Kay Fortune, Columbia

2018 – Paul Kennemore, Greenwood

2017 – Jay Pitts, Lexington

2016 – Julian Gibbons, Columbia

2015 – Sonny Dickinson, Columbia

2014 – Dennis Powell, Columbia

2013 – Jeff Grantz, Columbia

2012 – Ken Wheat, Columbia

Description of Awards


Named for the longtime head football coach at South Carolina State University and SCAHOF inductee, the recipient should be someone who has brought great honor to the State of South Carolina, who has merited a high degree of national acclaim, and who has demonstrated consistent and spirited diplomacy in building friendships and coalitions that benefit others like his namesake.


Named in memory of our longtime board member and inductee, this award is for the individual who is a driving force behind the annual operations and camaraderie of the SCAHOF. The recipient should be recognized amongst peers for service that has profoundly advanced the functionality of the SCAHOF. Typically, this person is an active and indispensable member of the SCAHOF board of directors.


Named for the longtime sports editor and columnist of The State newspaper and co-founder of this organization, the recipient is selected from the very best of various media outlets covering sports within South Carolina. The media representative should exude impeccable fairness and dedicated service to the integrity of the industry.


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