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What’s in a Name?

As a young boy, I would occasionally have the opportunity to leave the farm and spend time with my best friend at his home in town. We would generally shoot hoops, and then he would break out the Swan's Ice Cream and the A&W Root Beer. In my opinion, there is no better root beer float than one made from these two ingredients.

While many things consumed our minds, figuring out where the name "A&W" came from was never one of them. It turns out that a man named Roy Allen set up a roadside root beer stand in California one hot evening when the city was celebrating the homecoming of WWI heroes. Allen later partnered with Frank Wright to expand the concept, and coined the name A&W. In other words, the company is rooted in recognizing others for their service — even featuring a 6-foot mascot called the Good Ambassador Bear at many of its locations. That little stand has now grown to more than 1,000 restaurants in the United States and beyond.

Over 5 years ago, I began working on a piece of legislation modeled after many other states titled the Tim Tebow Bill. It allowed homeschoolers to try out for extracurricular activities including drama, debate, music, and sports at the public school they would normally attend. The name was to honor the legacy of Tim Tebow, who was homeschooled in Jacksonville, Florida, and was permitted to play football for the struggling Allen D. Neese High School team. He joined the team as a junior, making an immediate positive impact, even rushing for a 29-yard touchdown with an undiscovered broken fibula. Named Florida's Player of the Year as well as an All-American, he led his team to a state title the following year.

Year after year, the Tim Tebow Bill met intense scrutiny and objections from the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) and members of the House, preventing a vote on the floor where I was convinced it would successfully pass.

Recognizing that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, this year, I decided to change the name to the Dexter Mosley Act to reflect and honor the legacy of a man who devoted his life to serving others in sports. Mosley played football for the Auburn Tigers. Although he overcame several health challenges, including a heart transplant, Mosley finished college, settled in Georgia with his family, and continued his mission of investing in others. A homeschool dad himself, he became a staunch advocate for this community as well as those without a male role model in their lives. Unfortunately, the Lord called Mosely home just over two years ago, but his legacy of service to others lives on.

At a time when our communities are so divided, most people agree that team activities break down barriers by bringing kids together from diverse backgrounds for a common goal. Understanding the need to find common ground, both sides committed to exploring solutions and changes to address the concerns. Before long, Dr. Robin Hines of the GHSA and I proudly announced our endorsement, which ultimately led to the passage of the Dexter Mosely Act.

The next time you glance at the name on a product or name of an initiative, consider exploring the heart behind the name. 

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