A “trainer of bodies and souls” is this year’s recipient of the Chattanooga Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award. Darrell Wyke, a minster who mentors youth and advocates for the homeless, received the award during the bar association’s annual Law Day luncheon June 5.
The CBA’s annual Liberty Bell Award recognizes community service that has strengthened the America system of freedom under law. It is not presented to a lawyer or judge.
A former college football player from Selmer in West Tennessee, Wyke spent 10 years as Baylor’s strength and conditioning coach. Now a trainer and minister, Wyke has done his fair share of work in the community.
In 2016, Wyke was part of a mentoring team at Howard School that trained 10 students, nine of whom received scholarships to play football in college. Last year, he donated $25,000 toward the restoration of Howard School’s football field.
Wyke has also fed the homeless in downtown Chattanooga weekly for 16 years.
Baylor School Headmaster Scott Wilson said Wyke brings about change without seeking recognition or gratitude.
“The scope of Darrell’s services ranges from the smallest acts of kindness to notable contributions to institutions, our city and our state. His gifts of his time, effort, treasure and counsel are countless.”
Wilson added that Wyke is “a man of deep personal faith who feels called to help the least of society.”
“He feeds the homeless, offers championship to the elderly, invests in schools in Chattanooga’s most neglected neighborhoods and offers perspective and calls-to-action to policymakers.”
Wilson said Wyke’s greatest contributions have been made to young people. “The stories of the changed lives of teenage boys who were headed toward predictable dead ends are inspirational. Darrell literally saves lives through his hands-on counsel, coaching and love. Boys who have no hope find it through Darrell.
“Even the name of his training facility – We Sacrifice, We Excel – sums up Mr. Wyke’s belief that every American kid has a right to the opportunity to succeed in life.”
Past recipients of the Liberty Bell Award include former U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, former Hamilton County Commissioner and Mayor Claude Ramsey, First Things First President Julie Baumgarder, radio personality Luther Masingill and dozens more since it was first presented in 1964.
“As I looked at the distinguished list of recipients, all I could think was what an honor it is to receive the Liberty Bell Award,” Wyke said during his acceptance speech.
“I accept this award with the belief that progress must be made in our great city and society in general,” Wyke continued. “Our children and our citizens need to be taught to obey the law, to honor and respect the Constitution and to make sure each individual citizen has equal access to our judicial system.”
Wyke also called for an end to tribalism and a return to “being great Americans.”
“Let us lend our neighbors a helping hand, help the poor and the voiceless, rid this city of homelessness and despair and educate our children properly,” Wyke said in conclusion. “And let justice be served and God be our guide.”