American Legion Hall
By Martha Haynes
(Click hyperlinked award for text of presentation.)
Tears of joy turned effortlessly into peals of laughter as the 2002 Annual Awards were presented at the American Legion Hall Thursday night, Jan. 30. Annual award winners overwhelmingly appeared surprised by the praise and recognition their fellow runners heaped on them. Not even gentle teasing was out of bounds at the Grand Prix Committee-sponsored event that was characterized by beaming smiles, hugs, and hearty congratulations.
Past President David Yon presented the first award, Volunteer of the Year, to Toma Wilkerson, for her long-running dedication to a multitude of events, particularly the Chenoweth Fund. Bonnie Wright presented the Community Award, citing the Maclay School’s support of many GWTC events, particularly volunteering its facilities for the Tuesday night intervals while the FSU track was under renovation. The award was accepted by Maclay Coach Gary Droze and Athletic Director Bruce Irvin.
Current President Jane Johnson (who received a special award for an outstanding year in office) successfully fought back tears as she listed the numerous selfless achievements of Female Runner of the Year Judy Alexander, and Bud Fennema ad-libbed a hilarious tribute to his running buddy and Male Runner of the Year, Bill Hillison.
Mary Jean Yon, co-race director of the Turkey Trot, detailed the accomplishments of the Race Directors of the Year, Jeanne O’Kon and Tom Perkins, for not only taking over and continuing the success of the Springtime Tallahassee 10K, but also for creating and directing the ever-popular 10 years and running Cookie Run 5K.
Judy Alexander got her turn to honor a fellow runner as the 2002 Cleveland-Caldwell Advancement of the Sport Award winner when she introduced former Female Runner of the Year Julie Clark and detailed her contributions by spearheading numerous beginning running groups and introducing a wealth of new runners to the sport. Philip Munoz did a noble job of outlining the triathlete career of Lynn Powell, from her birth in the 60’s to her first tricycle and first triathlon, to winning the Triathlete of the Year Award for 2002.
Finally, a standing ovation accompanied Ray Hanlon to the stage as he received the GWTC Hall of Fame Award from Fran McLean, who charmingly characterized the humble yet remarkably generous and talented former President and longtime Gulf Winds member and champion. As McLean approached the stage to deliver her speech, Hanlon was overheard remarking, “There ain’t no good that can come out of this.”
Grand Prix and Summer Grand Prix winners were also recognized. Bill McGuire emceed the event which was sponsored by the Grand Prix Committee of Jane Johnson, Paul Ahnberg, Mike Sims, Lisa Unger and Jo Lena Pace. Bonnie Wright provided an appetizing array of refreshments.