A Grand Way to Say Thanks

David Yon, January 15, 2011

There are never “bad” decisions on awards for Gulf Winds Track Club.  After all there are so many hard working people who make GWTC special and who deserve recognition.   But every now and then the Awards Committee just hits the ball out of the park with the bases loaded.   This year very much seemed to fall into the grand slam category.  This year’s committee consisted of Jeanne O’Kon (chair), Bill Lott, Chicka Okoro, Amanda Hudson and Mark Priddy.  Now, a reporter should disclose those things that make him (or her) biased.  So, I must admit to believing the Hall of Fame selection was absolutely terrific, but confess to being somewhat less than objective.

For the second year the ceremony was held the night of the 30K at the Retreat at Bradley’s Pond.  And like last year, a good crowd showed up at the quaint facility.   There were several highlights on the night.   But my favorite occurred during Mae Cleveland’s Hall of Fame Presentation.   Mae has been part of GWTC from its earliest days and understands well the “soul” of this running club, so her words carry great weight.  In her speech inducting Mary Jean Yon into the GWTC Hall of Fame (only one person is selected each year) she summed up what is so special about this organization when she described Mary Jean’s efforts to make the Tallahassee Turkey Trot more than just a race.  “It was as if Mary Jean Yon…opened up the heart of Gulf Winds Track Club and invited all the community to meet there.”  Saturday night showed just how true that statement is in so many instances as all of the award recipients shared a common thread of giving something special to the community. 

The first award, the Community Award, went to Chuck Goodheart and Jimbo Herring for their work for the City of Tallahassee in maintaining one of the best trail systems for running in the country.  Tom Perkins, who presented the award, noted:  “There are over sixty-one parks in Tallahassee: Red Bug, Elinor Klapp-Phipps (Home to Miller Landing Madness and the Pot Luck Bash), Lake Heritage Trails I and II, and San Luis Ridge, to name a few…[which make] Tallahassee the ‘best kept running secret.’”  Tom was followed by Judy Alexander who presented the Bill Lott Volunteer of the Year Award to Robin Borschel and TJ Cutchins for their outstanding work with the Beginning Running Group and Boot Camp classes.  They have given their time to give a lot of people the tools to enter the world of running.   Lisa Unger followed that presentation by acknowledging two outstanding Youth Volunteers, Alexandra Wallace (13) and Samantha Corbin (17), for their endless hours of help.

Jackie and Jerry McDaniel took over the GWTC 30K in 2005.  One year later they added a 15K and found a beautiful home for the race on Old Centerville Road.  For their efforts, Mary Jean Yon presented them with the Race Director of the Year Award.   I had the pleasure of presenting the Cleveland-Caldwell Advancement of the Sport Award to Lisa Unger, a member who has made a tremendous difference in a multitude of ways in the Tallahassee running community.  Jason Hand presented the Male Triathlete Award to a very deserving Charlie Johnson, while Lisa Cox recognized Ann Bowman for her outstanding achievements which made her a great choice for Female Triathlete of the Year.

Gary Griffin used his superb speaking skills honed as a minister to preach about why Vince Molosky not only deserved his award as Male Runner of the Year, but also as a saint.  Kelly Stevens told us just how Nancy Stedman not only ran well, but how much she did for the local running community- directing a marathon, organizing weekend running groups, and befriending new runners.  You could hear a pin drop as Nancy described the demons she had to conquer to find her way to being the Female Runner of the Year.

And yes, we ended with the most special award the club gives.  Only 33 people have been inducted into the GWTC Hall of Fame.  As Mae Cleveland explained in her presentation this award goes to an individual “who has taken on activities which effectively directed the energy of the club and helped shape its ideals, and who has brought recognition and respect to our club, through running or taking on major responsibilities to fulfill the goals of the club.”  She went on to say: “Tonight’s inductee can match anyone in directing our energy, shaping our ideals, and bringing respect to Gulf Winds Track Club, and has done this over a period of years, with anticipation and patience, with determination and grace, and through one particular event.” 

It truly was a delight to see these very special people recognized for their great contributions.