I feel incredibly honored to have been invited to do some pretty cool things over the past few years—things that are near and dear to my heart. For example, Medal of Honor recipient Command Sergeant Major Bennie Adkins invited me to his award ceremony at the White House in 2014. That same year, the National Stuttering Association asked me to be their keynote speaker. On June 4 of this year, I was asked to speak at a function for the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind in Talladega, which was very special to me considering my father, who was blind, was once a student there. I’ve also spoken at West Point…Georgia.
I’ve had the honor of entertaining on the campus of Texas A&M at an event sponsored by the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library. I’ve had the privilege of performing comedy with the likes of Louie Anderson, James Gregory, Josh Blue, and Jeff Foxworthy. I’ve had the extreme pleasure of performing comedy for troops around the world with my pals The GI’s of Comedy. As I said, I’ve been able to do some pretty cool things that have taken me a long way from 1909 Jollit Ave, the house in which I lived the first 18 years of my life.
Speaking of cool, in addition to the function in Talladega on June 4, I was asked to be at another event earlier in the day, and that event was the Opelika Rotary and Happy Hour Satellite Rotary’s Second Annual Burger Wars at Courthouse Square in beautiful downtown Opelika. In fact, I was asked to be a judge for the second straight year. I knew I had the gig in Talladega that night, but there was no way I was passing up free burgers, particularly after tasting the talent from last year. I still daydream about the shrimp-n-grits burger. This year, it only got bigger and better.
Earlier in the day, the weather was not cooperating, and I almost “called in sick.” I didn’t want to be out there in all that mess, but I made a commitment and showed up with a positive attitude and an appetite to boot—a big boot, and boy was I rewarded! Not only did it turn out to be a beautiful day, but the cooks, both the pros and the tailgaters, really showed out.
I can’t wait for next year. Part of me hopes I hit the trifecta and get invited back to judge, but the competitor in me wants to fire up the grill and make my famous “Fulla burger.” Perhaps “famous” is a misnomer considering it’s more like a not quite ready for primetime burger, but rest assured, I can cook with the best of them. I’d like to do both, but that would likely be a conflict of interest. I have a group of friends who are ready to join me if we make it a go, so watch out, fellow tailgaters; we have a year to perfect it.
I’d encourage you to join us next year, too, whether it be as a pro, a tailgater, or a taster. It doesn’t matter. Just come out and support the fundraising efforts of the Rotary Clubs as they do their part to improve our community but also to enjoy a few hours in a family friendly environment dominated by the aroma of grilled hamburgers in the shadows of arguably the most beautiful courthouse in Alabama. It’s really Main Street America at its finest.  I know I’ll be there, so until then, bon appétit.
Jody Fuller is from Opelika. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.