Bill Lott Volunteer of the Year Award

Presented by Gary Droze

The 2016 Volunteer of the Year happens to be an acquaintance of mine.  More specifically, a matrimonial acquaintance.  In fact, this week marks our 16thanniversary.  I still remember our vows.  I promised to love, honor, cherish, yadda, yadda, yadda, AND to take charge of the thermostat, fiddle with the refrigerator setting, pick the TV channels and radio stations, and keep our cars smelling like dead fish.  In all modesty, I’d say I’ve kept my vows for 16 years.  My wife promised to love, honor, cherish, yadda, yadda, yadda, AND to get home early enough to fix the turkey pot pie for the devoted husband.  For so many years, my wife stayed true to her vows.

Then she became the equipment manager for the Gulf Winds Track Club.

Initially, I thought: “How quaint.  She will answer some race director questions about equipment, and maybe get out of the house a few times to help folks pick up clocks and cones.  What a nice, cozy little volunteer stint.”  But it wasn’t long before reality kicked in, reality being that my bride would be schlepping up North Monroe Street to the Gulf Winds Track Club equipment storage units TWICE for most every race contested in the Tallahassee area.  Once each for equipment pickup, and once for return.  Such a job would be time-consuming enough for volunteers in other major running clubs in Florida.  For example, the Jacksonville Track Club lends assistance for over twenty races per year, the Orlando Runners’ Club is involved with about thirty, and I counted almost forty races on the Pensacola Runners’ Association schedule for 2016.  No offense to those fine organizations, but there’s only one legit response to such numbers: Big Whoop.

The Gulf Winds Track Club posted results to 113 races in 2016.  5K races pop up in Tallahassee with more frequency than mattress outlets.  The majority of those races received direct assistance from the club’s equipment manager.  Moreover, a number of events that did not post results still used our equipment.  And many of those event directors were greenhorns who depended heavily on the patient advice and guidance that came with the equipment.  Often, the only contact these folks would have with Gulf Winds consisted of their interaction with our equipment manager, so she was literally the face of the track club for them.  Well, she did the club proud, providing relentless service with a smile, even as her grumpy husband sat home saying, “Hey!  Where is turkey pot pie?”

Congratulations to the GWTC 2016 Volunteer of the Year – and the love of my life – Victoria Galano Droze