By Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times
Abrams Elementary School in Bessemer on Thursday recognized native son TWG 2022 Chairman of the Board Jonathan Porter.
Porter, who attended the school, was honored by representatives of the World Games 2022 and the cities of Birmingham and Bessemer.
Porter couldn’t thank the elementary school enough for what it meant to him. Quoting German philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Porter said, ‘If you treat a man as he is, he will remain as he is. If you treat him as he should be and as he could be, that he will be,’ so I want to thank Bessemer City Schools, J.S. Abrams Elementary School, for treating me as I should be…and I look forward to 30 years from now, having some of these young people lead the next international event coming to Birmingham,” Porter said.
Kathy Boswell, vice president of community engagement for The World Games, said Porter has been a crucial leader for the event, since he joined the Birmingham Organizing Committee (BOC) for TWG five years ago.
“He has been through every iteration, ups and downs, but if you see him lead, you can just be amazed at the kind of leader that he is, but he leads with care, and he leads with heart, but he also means what he says, and he says what he means. And he doesn’t mince any words,” Boswell said.
“For us as a part of BOC, we have been able to really see strong leadership at its best, and we are very grateful,” she added.
Porter, a Bessemer native was presented with a letter from Kenneth Gulley, the city’s mayor, as well as the first print of a World Games 2022 poster designed by Helena 11th grader Cody Jones, which was created for a competition organized by TWG.
Boswell said Porter is “someone who is able to stay so grounded from the start from being raised by a single mother in the city of Bessemer and Tuskegee University, his alma mater.
“Jonathan [Porter] has always been very proud of where he began. No matter where he goes, one of the things you’re going to know, he was ‘Besma’ born and raised, so he’s always been proud of that,” Boswell said.
Ed Fields, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin’s senior advisor and chief strategist, thanked Porter on behalf of the mayor.
“Jonathan, you have been an amazing leader at an incredibly challenging time, not only for our city but for the region. Your representation of Bessemer always shines through, irrespective of where you are, you remind us of where you come from…so we are honored to serve alongside you,” Fields said.
Bessemer City Schools Superintendent Autumm Jeter said Porter was a “great model” for those who come through the school system.
“We thank you, congratulations, and we look forward to our students attending and participating with you all at the World Games,” Jeter said.
The Word Games 2022 will take place from July 7 through July 17, at various venues across the Birmingham metro area. For more information, visit twg2022.com.