Troy honors favorite son, Survivor
By Jaine Treadwell, The Messenger
"Survivor: Palau" didn't come close to breaking Bobby Jon Drinkard but he couldn't hold back the emotions at the outpouring of affection from his hometown on Thursday afternoon.
A reception was held in Drinkard's honor at Troy City Hall and friends and family applauded as Mayor Jimmy Lunsford presented Drinkard with a key to the city.
"We don't give out many of these," Lunsford said. "We are so proud of you and what you did for yourself, your family and your community. You made us all proud."
Looking more like a model on the cover of GQ than a castaway on a remote South Pacific island, Drinkard's voice broke and he wiped away tears as he expressed appreciation for the recognition.
"Whew!" he said, and momentarily turned away from the cameras. "It's good to come back to a place where you are accepted for what you do and what you don't do. This means a lot."
Drinkard was one of 20 castaways on "Survivor: Palau," the popular television reality show, which ended its season on May 8. Less than a month later, his hometown declared June 2 as Bobby Jon Drinkard Day and tipped their collective hats to him for a job well done.
"This was totally an honor," Drinkard said of the recognition he received from his hometown. "To be honored for something that I accomplished means a lot to me. Being on 'Survivor' might not be that big of a deal to a lot of people. I'm sure a lot of people brushed it off, but it was a big deal to me. So, to come back home and know that people around here thought it was a big deal, too, is a real honor."
Drinkard said being on "Survivor" was something that not many people get an opportunity to do.
"I was proud of the chance to be a part of something like that," he said. "But, I never expected anything like this today. This is a real show of goodwill and I really appreciate it."
Jason Reeves, Troy council member, commended Drinkard for mentioning Troy on the final episode of "Survivor: Palau."
When asked by Jeff Probst, the host of "Survivor," about his outstanding work ethic demonstrated on the island, Drinkard gave credit to his parents and to the city he calls home.
"He was the only one of the 20 castaways that mentioned his hometown," Reeves said. "Survivor brings out the worst in some people but it brought out the best in Bobby Jon."
Drinkard said his answer was not scripted. However, when he was asked about his work ethic, he responded honestly and truthfully.
"I don't care how big the town is where you grow up or how small, it plays a role in who you are," he said. "It's part of the foundation of home and it's a part of you."
Home, for Drinkard, is a comfortable, easy place to be.
"Home means a lot to me," he said. "It's a place where you are more than a number. It's a place where you can be who you are. In Troy, I can be somebody whether I was on "Survivor" or not. At home, I'm still me."
And, Drinkard is not ruling out the chance that Troy might be the place he eventually comes "home to."
"I'm still in California and things are going good out there," he said. "I'm not doing as much modeling as I did but I'm starting to get more TV work. Right now, I've got some things pending. So, I'll be there for a while."
Being on "Survivor" put Drinkard in the public eye all across the nation, but it didn't really swing a score of doors open wide for him.
"Being on "Survivor" did open a few doors but in Los Angeles, you've got to do a lot more than be on a reality show to compete with the guys out there," he said. "You've got to pack more of a punch than that. It's tough in Los Angeles but it all starts somewhere."
For Bobby Jon Drinkard, it started right here in Troy and, no matter where he goes from here, he's "grateful for that."http://www.troymessenger.com/articles/2005/06/03/news/newssss01.txt