Porter, who teaches math at Long Middle School, also coaches Cheraw High's varsity wrestling and soccer teams, the Long Middle football team and is an active member of First Baptist Church in Cheraw.
Cheraw Parks and Recreation Department Director Phil Powell presented Porter with the award. Powell said his friend of 25 years developed kids - not just winning athletic programs.
"During your life, you meet people who are just a little more special than others," Powell said before revealing the award recipient. "Someone, who by just being around them, can guide you as to what to do with your own talents to make you a better person. The purpose of the Award of Excellence is to provide an opportunity for the community to say thanks to that person."
Accompanying Powell on stage to present Porter with his award were some of Porter's students and athletes from Long Middle School.
Porter attended the banquet because he thought the chamber award was going to Long Middle Principal Dannie Blair. "That's the only reason why I'm here. But this means an awful lot to me, and I really appreciate it," he said.
Also present at the banquet were Porter's parents, Wayne and Arlene Porter, and his brother, Norman, who came to town without Porter's knowing.
A day after the banquet, Porter said he was still trying to figure out exactly what happened.
"They caught me totally by surprise," he said. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Patsy Hendley had asked him to come to the banquet in honor of Blair, whom she said was going to receive the award. "I didn't even know they had such an award, but I'd do anything for Ms. Blair. So when (Hendley) asked me to come there to represent her, I said I'd be happy to."
Although he said he felt undeserving of the honor, Porter was touched by the award. "Had there not been so many strangers there, I might have lost a tear," Porter said. "I was awestruck. It was overwhelming, out of all the great people who were there that night, that they would have even considered choosing me for such an award is just amazing. To put it all in one word, it was very humbling."
Time spent with Porter will prove it's the kids - and not the recognition - that keep him going.
"When you go out and do what you do every day, you're not looking for any kind of reward," Porter said. "If you are, then you're doing it for the wrong reason. For me, it's all about opening the kids' eyes and being the first to show them something. Like teaching swimming lessons. Showing them something you knew they could do that maybe they didn't. Seeing the excitement they get from that is indescribable."
The Chamber Award was not the first distinctive honor Porter has received this year. He was also named the state's Wrestling Coach of the Year after leading Cheraw to the 2A State Championship for the 2002-2003 season.