Hall of Fame - Mary Jean Yon

Presented by Mae Cleveland January 15, 2011

We have just recognized the work, performances and community achievements of some very remarkable club members and community leaders. Now, we will add a new member to the Gulf Winds Track Club Hall of Fame.  This membership recognizes one 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.

Certainly our early Hall of Fame members, mostly founding men and women, directed our young club toward the goal of getting others involved in running for fitness, and to reach out and involve the community to provide resources and to care for one another. 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.

First, let me tell you some areas in which she has served the club. In 1985, as a new club member, she attended the Road Runners Club of America convention in Atlanta. It was unique to see a young person at the beginning of her professional life mess around with our little ole club as we struggled to keep it together financially and structurally.  So impressed were we, it prompted our editor at the time to comment in the FleetFoot “…but more important (than running the 10K National Championship race) (she) also took an interest in the meetings and work going on, an interest I hope (will) continue on the local level.”  Well, not to worry!  Now, 25 years later she is being inducted into our Hall of Fame.

Along the way she has served as Secretary in 1989 and 1990 and Director at Large in 1997, 1998, 1999.  She was recognized as our Runner of the Year in 2001 and as Co-Race Director of the Year in 2003.  And in 2007 and 2008 she served as our club President.

But it is as director of the Turkey Trot that Mary Jean Yon has been instrumental in bringing a great deal of recognition to the club.  When the Turkey Trot moved to Southwood in 1993, over 1500 individuals finished a race and numerous more volunteered.  The Turkey Trot was viewed as “… a week-long community celebration of running, fitness and caring…” and as a “family holiday event.”  By incorporating music events, tapping local groups to volunteer, and encouraging wide participation, the Turkey Trot is truly a community event in which Gulf Winds Track Club gets credit.

It was as if Mary Jean Yon, along with her husband, David, opened up the heart of Gulf Winds Track Club and invited all the community to meet there.  On Thanksgiving morning in Tallahassee, members of our community do meet, to run, work together and share with those in our community who are not at a place right now where they can properly care for themselves. Caring for our community is the theme of Mary Jean’s work, life and play. Her outlook is always forward looking. On the Board Member Profile page of GWTC website, she lists as a Favorite Race, in addition to Big Sur and Antarctica Marathons, “my next marathon; it’s all about anticipation.”  Makes one wonder what might yet be in store for us.

Of no less importance than directing club energy, we see her direct her own energy in handling the challenge of her personal health. In 2004, right after the Ten Mile race at Killearn Lakes, David rushed Mary Jean to the emergency room for what turned out to be a critical heart condition.  We have seen her bravely shape the direction of her recovery with courage, determination and grace.  Much to our delight, as well as hers, she is fully enjoying her running again.

There is not flash and dash and braggadocio about this individual; there is charm and calm and confidence in how she goes about being successful at what she does. This award is not so much about personal acclamations, it is about directing the energy and shaping the ideals, and continuing to raise the level of recognition and respect we all receive for being part of GWTC.

I feel honored to be presenting this award to Mary Jean Yon and ask that you join me in inducting her into our Gulf Winds Track Club Hall of Fame.