TONY SERRANO Jr.
(10/19/1968 – 8/26/2004)
Describing the life of a truly exemplary individual to those who were not lucky enough to meet him is a difficult task. If you knew Tony Serrano, then you will agree that there are not enough words that can clearly paint a picture of the kind of human being that he was and the kind of life he lead. Tony was an avid athlete training for an Ironman Triathlon when he was stuck by a car and killed while riding his bicycle on August 26, 2004. He was 35 and left behind a wife and two young daughters aged one and three.
Tony’s athletic career lists some pretty respectable accomplishments, such as competing in several Ironman and Half Ironman Triathlons in Florida, Idaho and Wisconsin. He was expected to finish and qualify for his dream, the Hawaii Ironman Championship during the Wisconsin Ironman, which he was training for when killed.
Since childhood, Tony demonstrated a passion and ability for a variety of sports. By age 13 he had two national motocross and enduro championships under his belt in his native country of Mexico. After moving to the US with his family, Tony raced cars in SCCA’s Showroom Stock A division, and by the time he was 20, he had won two regional championships. He also participated in 24-hour endurance mountain bike races and ran ultramarathons both as a pacer and as runner -- Tony finished the 100-mile, cross country Arkansas UltraMarathon in 28 hours, 20 minutes.
While in his short life Tony was able to amass a number of athletic accomplishments, he was as well known for his positive attitude and easy-going personality. He is well-remembered for his words of encouragement and willingness to help fellow sports enthusiasts, whether novices or seasoned pros. To all who knew him, Tony was most definitely an accomplished athlete without the “jock” personality.
When he was an ultramarathon pacer for his good friend Roger Ackerman, and later while training as a competitor for the 2003 Arkansas Traveler Ultramarathon, Tony always showed extreme sportsmanship and support for his fellow runners. “His famous words that will be forever etched in my mind are ‘come on Roger, jog it up,” remembers Ackerman. Those same words served as unconditional encouragement again in 2004 when Ackerman returned to Arkansas to run the 100-miler in his memory and wearing Tony’s number.
But Tony was much more than just an accomplished sportsman. He had a passion and drive that translated itself into his professional and personal life as well. In business, he demonstrated the same positive attitude and helpful nature that helped him succeed. In his 35 years, Tony was able to live a life full of adventures and experiences that most people don’t get to accomplish in a lifetime twice as long. Above all, Tony was a passionate husband, a devoted father, a loyal son and brother, a friend and a mentor.
The story of Tony Serrano doesn’t end back on that August day in 2004, however. Thanks to the efforts of true, loyal friends and family, numerous accomplishments are still being added to the list that bears his name. The Tony Serrano Century Ride was created to honor his memory and to raise awareness of the rights of cyclists in Georgia. Now in its tenth year, the ride has grown tremendously and during the 2010 event, more than 400 riders participated.
There is a modest office building in the city of Bogota, Colombia that houses a successful Payment Software Corporation called PaySett. Tony was a founding partner at PaySett, and the building bears the name of Oficina Serrano to honor him. Because of the impact that Tony had on the employees of PaySett Corporation, they honor his memory by giving an award each year to the employee that most emulates Tony’s attitude and servant spirit. Employees vote on who they believe has demonstrated the most servant spirit within the company for that year, and the winner receives the Tony Serrano Service Award. This award comes with a quote from the Bible that states, He who would be the greatest, be servant to all.
On December 2010, Tony’s wife, daughters, parents and brother were fortunate enough to attend the latest award ceremony in Bogota at the invitation of Benny Cooley, President of PaySett, friend and coworker to Tony. “Tony’s attitude was that if something needed to be done and he could help, he would be there to assist. Whether there was a need at work or a personal need, Tony was always willing to assist anyone that needed help and many times offered his help without even being asked,” reflected Cooley. “Tony was someone who led by example, demonstrating how to be a positive contributing force to whatever situation that he encountered. We at PaySett fully support the implementation of new laws to protect cyclists. We are pleased to see that Tony still influences the world in a positive way. He will forever be missed but not forgotten.”
Sandy Serrano Parris