Originally created 07/29/99

Organizers salute Georgia Games staff



Georgia Games volunteers gathered Wednesday night for the last event of the 1999 championships -- eating, dancing and celebrating at an appreciation dinner thrown by organizers.

At least 500 people attended the event at the Julian Smith Casino, where organizers congratulated them on their efforts. More than 3,000 people worked as volunteers during the five-day event and over the course of more than 1 1/2 years of preparation.

"They are the Games," said Deanne Fullerton, volunteer coordinator with the Augusta Games Steering Committee. "We couldn't have the Games without them."

Volunteers -- some wearing the credentials they sported as they worked last week -- reminisced about the events as they downed barbecue chicken and potato salad.

"When I heard this would be happening locally, I said `This is my time to do it,"' said Elizabeth Bellamy, who made up for the disappointment of not working the 1996 Atlanta Olympics by putting in four nights at the Georgia Games swimming venue.

"I got my kids involved -- it was a family event. It was wonderful. I loved it. I felt like I was part of something historic."

Organizers also presented two Hardin awards, given to the hardest-working volunteer. Sally Hardin, who served as volunteer chairwoman of the Georgia Games in its first three years and for whom the award is named, presented the plaques to Jean Garniewicz, operations coordinator for the Augusta steering committee, and Reid Carter, who coordinated sponsor partnerships for the committee. It was only the second time in nine years that more than one person received the award.

"I think each and every one of you equally deserves this award," Mr. Carter said. "Because if it wasn't for the community pride that helped put this thing together, we couldn't have pulled it off."

Alisa DeMao can be reached at (706) 823-3223 or ademao@augustachronicle.com.