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Photo Caption: Lawrenceville Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson, second from right, receives the Georgia Recreation and Park Association Volunteer of the Year award from GRPA Executive Director Steve Card, from left, Gwinnett County Community Services Director Tina Fleming and county commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash. (Photo: Gwinnett County)
On October 16, 2018, Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson was named the State Volunteer of the Year by the Georgia Recreation and Park Association (GRPA). The GRPA honors volunteers whose efforts have had a lasting effect on recreation and leisure service programs in the state of Georgia. Mayor Johnson received this recognition for her visionary execution of the Gwinnett Bicentennial Torch Relay.
Mayor Johnson has stated from the beginning, “As the torch is carried to historical sites, I hope the past is illuminated; when the torch stops at city halls and parks, I hope the present is illuminated; and as the torch is carried by young runners, I hope the future is illuminated.”
As a member of the Bicentennial Citizen Advisory Committee, Mayor Johnson initiated the idea for a Torch Relay as a way to involve citizens throughout Gwinnett during the year-long celebration. Cross country and track teams of 150+ runners from Gwinnett’s public and private schools have served as torchbearers who carry the torch to historic sites, public recreation facilities, and cities across the county and neighboring counties – covering 235 miles. Mayor Johnson was instrumental in the planning process, mapping out and driving the 200+ miles to plan the torch route, contacting 16 cities, Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation (GCPR) facilities, and public/private high schools to coordinate the 36 legs of the torch relay.
GCPR has played an integral role alongside Mayor Johnson by researching the historical facts displayed on the ten Bicentennial History Panels that travel along with the torch from site to site, coordinating the set-up and breakdown schedules with all 36 locations.
Tina Fleming, Director of Community Services for Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation stated, “A true advocate for parks and recreation, we greatly appreciate Mayor Johnson’s commitment shown towards staff and community members, making her our most outstanding volunteer.”
The remaining legs of the torch run will take place in November and December in the cities of Berkeley Lake, Peachtree Corners, Norcross, and Duluth, with the torch finally reaching the finish line for a final celebration of Gwinnett’s 200 years at the Infinite Energy Arena on December 15, 2018.