VALDOSTA -- Valwood School's Chad Gallahan is the epitome of a well-rounded high school student.

The 17-year-old son of David and Cindy Gallahan is a force to be reckoned with on the football, baseball, and soccer fields, as well as the track and basketball court. He's also intelligent, well-mannered, kind, and dedicated to the betterment of his community.

And if that wasn't already enough, this future Valdosta State University student was recently named a state finalist in the Wendy's High School Heisman Program.

Thrilled with the honor, Gallahan said, "I appreciate the fact that everything I have worked so hard for has not gone unnoticed. It's not easy maintaining such a demanding athletic and academic schedule."

Gallahan was among 1,020 of the nation's elite high school seniors -- 10 men and 10 women from each state plus the District of Columbia -- selected as a state finalist.

Students who have completed their junior year of high school at one of the nation's 23,000 public and private high schools, have at least a "B" grade average, and participate in at least one of the 32 sports officially sanctioned by the National Federation of State High Schools are eligible to be nominated for the honor. Principals are invited to nominate one male and one female from their school.

Students are judged on their academic achievements, community service, and athletic accomplishments.

Graham, who plans to pursue a football scholarship at Valdosta State University, wants to major in pharmacy or early childhood education.

"I don't know," he said. "I'm good in chemistry, and I really love working with small children."

As a senior, he is a member of the Interact Club; the Knights of the Round Table; Fellowship of Christian Athletes; the Park Avenue Bank Student Advisory Board; and Managing Pressures Before Marriage team.

In his spare time, which is often hard to come by, Gallahan volunteers with America's Second Harvest of South Georgia, watches television, hangs out at the Valdosta-Lowndes County Family YMCA and plays soccer and football with friends.

The Wendy's High School Heisman program was created in 1994 through a partnership between Wendy's, the Downtown Athletic Club of New York City, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. The program distinguishes young people who are committed to improving themselves and their communities.

Although Gallahan did not go any further in the competition, the field was narrowed to 102 state winners, one male and one female from each state. It was then cut to 12 national finalists, one male and one female from each of six geographical regions.

The competition ended with the naming of a male and a female national award winner.

Gallahan said he would not have made it to the level of state finalist without the support and encouragement of Brett Martin, Valwood School's athletic director; Mike Patrick, Valwood School's head football coach; Rick Howard, mentor; Peter Allen, Valwood School's basketball coach; and his teachers, family, and friends.

For information about the program, visit

To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.

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