2001 Community Award – Mary RegisterBy David Yon
In 1985 Dot Skofronick asked if I would be willing to help her with GWTC’s 15K race, known as the Chenoweth 15K. Dean and Jenny Chenoweth had been the owners of the local Budweiser distributorship and major sponsors of the race and it was one of the club’s biggest events. When I agreed to help, Dot did not tell me that I would soon have two major storms blow through my life. The first was Hurricane Kate and it blew through Tallahassee two days before the 1985 Chenoweth 15K race was to be run. Kate left downed power lines and a path of destruction and devastation behind. But at least after one year it was gone. The second storm, Hurricane Mary, had been the silent hand behind the race and was there to make sure Dot had everything she needed to ensure this race went on without a hitch despite the aftermath of Kate. This storm though was not going away.
The next few years, while I played race director, the steady presence that made sure things went off well was Hurricane Mary. She would blow through the door full of ideas and plans. As the 90’s rolled around though we both drifted away from the race and Mary went on to another line of work after Jenny Chenoweth died and the distributorship changed hands. The race suffered mightily over the next couple years. Eventually, Mary Jean, Bill McGuire and I got involved again and struggled to get things back on track. We struggled along doing our best to build the race back to its glory days and slowly it headed in the right direction.
Then a couple of years ago, a familiar face showed up one Thanksgiving morning and asked, “What can I do to help you guys?” It was just a small rain shower that first year, as she helped out with registration, scoring and sorting contributions for Echo, the Shelter and other organizations. In 2000 the winds picked up a bit more as she brought more energy and upped her contributions to the race. Pretty soon though an eye began to form and those winds began to blow in a circle, while the barometric pressure started dropping. The National Weather Center totally missed this storm, but it landed in Tallahassee with a tremendous force that blew me right off my feet. Before you could say “evacuate” we had a whole new concept for Turkey Trot, a wonderful new cause (The Women with Wings Foundation and Refuge House) and a nationally known author and photographer (Connie and Mika Fowler) involved in the cause. But that was just a start. As the wind speed picked up Hurricane Mary began knocking down doors to new sponsors and sources for publicity and before you knew it, Turkey Trot was everywhere. By the time the disaster relief teams reported in on the storm damage, the race had a record crowd for Thanksgiving Day, the Refuge House had $13,000 and GWTC had $3200.
At the same time she jumped back into another cause she loved – the Chenoweth Fund. Hurricane Mary worked for and was a close personal friend of Dean and Jenny Chenoweth. She was one of the original members and founders of the Chenoweth Fund Committee. At her first meeting after returning to the Committee this year, she rattled off so many ideas the rest of us just got dizzy. When the topic of a new running journal came up and some of us choked on the cost, Mary just calmly laid out a budget and a plan to make it happen. We just shook our heads and said, “If this wild woman thinks it can happen, well maybe we should just give it a try.”
She will tell you quickly she is not a runner and she doesn’t deserve any of this. I know better, because I have been blown off my feet by the force of her winds more than once. She has the heart and spirit of the best of any of us. I could not be any happier or prouder than to present to you the 2001 Community Award recipient, Hurricane Mary Register.