By LARRY VAUGHT
Where do I start?
The retirement/career change party put on for me Friday night at Mallard’s in Danville by my friend Tina Cox is something I’ll never forget.
I never expected so many friends from so many walks of life to show up and say so many nice things about me.
Think about this? Two former UK football players who both played in the NFL both spoke. Dennis Johnson is now the head football coach at Woodford County and Jacob Tamme is still playing in the NFL for Atlanta. Tamme was hilarious and probably stole the show. But what both said meant more to me than they will ever know.
Same for media buddy Mark Buerger, Mercer County football coach David Buchanan and Boyle County football coach Chuck Smith. All I can say is thanks and I am lucky to call them all friends.
I was stunned that David Hopewell tailgate buddy Paul Moore came and said so many nice things. Same for members of the Louisville Quarterback Club who made the trip.
And what about Tony Neely, associate athletics director at the University of Kentucky. He came with his wife and truly touched me with his kind words.
Former UK quarterback Freddie Maggard was Freddie. He was funny, but insightful. What he said nearly made me cry and I am lucky he gave me a chance to reach out to so many military members in a small way, including his wife, Jen.
Cpt. Matt Bradford, who lost his eyes and legs in a roadside bomb in Iraq, was there along with his wife, Amanda. He’s my hero.
The one and only John Short came. So did former co-workers Gary Moyers, Hal Morris and Keith Taylor. My two most recent interns, Savana Stevens and Olivia Prewitt, were there and Olivia brought me a lovely collage of photos she took of me interviewing UK players.
WLAP Sunday Morning Sports buddies Anthony White and Curtis Burch both were there along with former Harrodsburg football coach Alvis Johnson and long-time Danville track/cross country coach E.G. Plummer. So was Danville Police Chief Tony Gray and Recreation Director John Drake. And it would not have been a party without Hometown Radio’s Charlie Perry or former Burgin superintendent Dick Webb.
If that wasn’t enough, former Miss Kentucky USA Maria Montgomery Record, Troy coach Neal Brown, WLEX-TV anchor Alan Cutler, J.D. Shelburne, and Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry all sent video tributes.
So did the one and only Dick Vitale that blew me away. To think he could take the time and put together so good for a small town newspaper guy in Danville is what he is all about. He truly cares about all the people he meets and knows.
Then there is Ryan Lemond of Kentucky Sports Radio. He was the master of ceremonies and was terrific. He didn’t miss anything like he did that halfcourt shot at Rupp Arena Wednesday. He even did a Periscope after the event that I know everyone had to love, including his charming wife Amanda.
If that was not enough, how about having Marlana VanHoose, there to sing. She sang My Old Kentucky Home and then did Drew Franklin of KSR’s favorite Adele song, a song she had never sang in public before. She has cerebral palsy and has been blind since birth, but she has a dynamic voice. She has sang at NBA playoff games, NASCAR events, college basketball games and more. And yet here she was at Mallard’s singing on my special night.
So how did all this come together? That would be long-time friend and UK fan Tina Cox. This celebration was all her idea and I have no idea how many hours she spent planning this, contacting people and putting the video together at the end.
The video had a variety of pictures of me with Montgomery Gentry’s My Town — the song I want played at my funeral — playing.
I don’t know how to ever thank her or Ann and Binky Kerbaugh for not only giving my wife and I a limo ride to the party, but giving my grandsons a special extra long ride home in the limo.
To everyone who came, thanks. To everyone who sent an email or tweet, thanks. To everyone who cared, thanks. I just wish I could write every name and there were so many of you I never expected to see that came.
And Tina, just know I love you and all the other speakers who went to so much trouble to give an old guy a night he’ll never forget.