Time to Say You Are Special
Bob Keller walked out on the deck of the Premier pool at 6:00 Monday morning. Everyone stopped their workout and started applauding. Just like at the Saturday night at the GWTC Awards Night Bob looked stunned, then overwhelmed. GWTC President Felton Wright, observed, “I thought he was going to cry.” Saturday, January 13, 2013 was Awards Night for Gulf Winds Track Club. It was great to see someone who has meant so much to so many people recognized. It seems like every year there are very special moments just like that one.
Bob Keller is one of those very special members of GWTC you can easily overlook. Always gracious, ready to help and a talented competitor, he is a terrific role model for many. This is especially true for Robin Safley who introduced Bob Keller as the newest member of the GWTC Hall of Fame, the club’s highest honor. The soon-to-be 79-year old has competed in duathlons (run-bike) all over the world, but what really makes him special is his relationships with his fellow competitors! As Robin summed it up – “If God had given me a choice, I would have picked you as my Dad.”
Once a year GWTC members gather to recognize some very special members. The Awards Committee this year included Jeanne O’Kon (Chair), Felton Wright, Chika Okoro, Mark Priddy and Amanda Hudson and as usual they did a bang up job. Once again the ceremony was held at Bradley’s Retreat and Bill McGuire served as Master of Ceremonies. In addition to Bob Keller’s induction into the Hall of Fame, the following awards were presented.
The Special Awards – Each year the committee likes to recognize some special achievements not reflected in the standard awards. This year there were three – The Making Strides Inside award presented by Mary Jean Yon and Dana Stetson, the Above and Beyond award presented by Judy Alexander and the Great Leap Forward by David Yon. The Gadsden Correctional Facility won the first award and Mary Jean and Dana told the story of how much GWTC’s involvement with a prison running club has meant to both the inmates and to the GWTC members who have participated. Tallahassee is extremely lucky to have a running store – Capital City Runners – owned by runners willing to go above and beyond in serving the community. Judy had plenty to talk about just listing all they have done. And I had the great pleasure of telling the tale how Peg Griffin and Bill Hillison have pushed GWTC to make a Great Leap Forward and venture into the world of chip timing.
Gordon Cherr got the Annual Awards started by recognizing what a wonderful host Tall Timbers has been for the Pine Run 20K. Neil Fleckenstein was the driving force behind making that happen and he was there to receive the Community Award. The Bill Lott Volunteer Award is supposed to go to someone who isn’t well known, except by those who always need this person’s help and encouragement. Pete Kerwin was a more than deserving recipient as presenters Chika Okoro and Holly Parker clearly documented. In a year where women are shining, it made perfect sense to recognize Lisa Unger for her outstanding work directing the Women’s Distance Festival 5K as Race Director of the Year. That is just what Mary Jean Yon did.
The Cleveland-Caldwell Advancement of the Sport Award is a very high honor indeed. This year’s winner was volunteer extraordinaire Bill Lott and Mae Cleveland did a nice piece of work telling us why. Of course we all there are 10,000 of those whys. We all like to recognize the fleet of foot among us. But to be Male or Female Runner of the year, in addition to being an accomplished runner, you must also give back to the community. I was able to tell the group just why Male Runner of the Year was presented to Stephen Cox. And Kristine Cox explained just how special K-A-T-I-E Showman is and why the female Grand Prix champion deserved the title Female Runner of the Year.
Robin Gibson and Seeley Gutierrez told us what a great season Brook Pace had and exactly why she deserved to be the Female Triathlete of the Year. For the Male Triathlete of the Year, it was Jeff Bowman provided the details that made Colin Abbey the award’s deserving recipient.
It is indeed a special night for the running and triathlon community. We are truly lucky to have so many special people within our group. And it is well worth the time to take a night and let them know just how special and deserving of recognition we think they are.