Great Leap Forward

Presented by Mary Jean Yon

One of the nice things about the holiday season is having a little extra time to do things like clean out a closet or a drawer. Such was the motivation for me one day that resulted in the unearthing of a GWTC 1987 Membership List. Oh how far we have come as a club! In 1987, GWTC had 739 members. Compare that to the 2056 members we had when we closed out 2013 and you get a feel for how we’ve grown as an organization.

1987 was my third year of running. I was on the verge of being pulled into serving on the Grand Prix committee by that rascal President we had named Tim Kelly. I’m pretty sure there was no GWTC web site and I know for a fact we did not have our own chip timing system. The world has seen such great technological advances over the last 25 years and a lot of it has provided great opportunities for GWTC to better serve the community.

You’ve heard our latest rascal President, Felton Wright, rave about these advances too. So it really should not have surprised me when Felton turned to me and said he wanted online voting for the 2013 election and he wanted me to spearhead the effort since I was the closest Past President he could find. My reaction was one of immediate panic, but I quickly pulled out an old tried and true formula for getting things done in a volunteer-based organization. Find a busy person and get them to do it!

In this case the job was so big, it was going to take two busy people to pull it off…maybe three. We weren’t talking about something as easy as downloading free survey oriented software from the web and telling everybody to go vote. Oh no! This is Gulf Winds…we seek perfection in all that we do which makes projects rather complicated at times.

So I started with Peg Griffin, one of the busiest people I know. As keeper of the membership data base, co-web master for the GWTC site and a person who has been known to take programming courses from time to time; she was a natural. Peg and I brainstormed the need for the best tech guru we could find and came up with the idea that the designer of the race results search engine must surely be ready for another project. And thus a call was made to Andy Roberts and the E-Voting committee was born!

As with any large project, things start slow and build with intensity. We took to having lunch at the Wharf Express and discussing the nuances of how many votes each household gets and how one guards against recalcitrants voting 10 times for their buddy or themselves. My role in all this was the task master that sent the annoying emails, demanded the lunch meetings and pushed relentlessly. I was afraid of failing but alas, Andy and Peg knew no such fear.

I was also the protector who gave the GWTC Board periodic updates on our progress. I recall one Board meeting where poor Rob McNeely innocently asked if our little group could include the Tri Club election as part of our final product. “Absolutely not,” came my swift and harsh reply! “We have our hands full just trying to do this one assignment!” When I boasted to Andy that I had scored one in my quest to shield him, he shrugged and said “I can do that; it’s not a problem.” I should have known then that we would be fine. The tech guy was unflappable and the data woman, who also specializes in graphics, even more so.

Long story short, we made it and GWTC had its first online election last fall. I suspect we tested the marriage of Andy and Marisol those last couple of weeks when the tech guy gave that final surge of energy, but they won’t admit to it! And the best news of all is that Andy’s work product is a template that can be used year after year just by changing out the names of the candidate… including Tri Club candidates too!  

Please join me in congratulating Andy Roberts and Peg Griffin as the recipients of the “Great Leap Forward” award.