Georgia Columnist wins Humanitarian Award

A Georgia columnist with a widely varied record of community service is the 2010 winner of the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award. Ed Grisamore of The Telegraph in Macon, Ga., will be presented with the prestigious award Friday, July 9 at the annual conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC).

   In nominating Grisamore for the award, Sherrie Marshall, executive editor of The Telegraph, cited a list of volunteer activities headed by his leadership in “The Reindeer Gang”, the newspaper’s annual holiday charitable giving effort. “Ed has told the stories of Middle Georgians in need, an effort that dramatically increased donations to dozens of individuals and families,” she said.

   “Nearly $27,000 was raised in 2007 and more than $56,000 was raised in 2008, even as the economy soured,” she said. “The 2009 Reindeer Gang was also a huge success,” she added. Exact figures were unavailable because donations were made directly to the individual agencies rather than to the Macon Community Foundation.

   Marshall called Grisamore “a wonderful ambassador for the newspaper.” “While Ed generally writes four columns a week, he also has written daily columns during the City of Macon’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival, where his knowledge of the community has made him a popular tour guide.” In 2008, he was inducted into the Macon Sports Hall of Fame for “contribution to sports” in the city.

   “He volunteers to read to students at local schools,” Marshall said. “He also has taught writing at a popular summer camp for kids, taught senior citizens to write their autobiographies, and organized the newspaper’s boot camp for aspiring writers.”

   Grisamore trained for eight weeks to learn ballroom dancing for a Make-a-Wish benefit in August 2008, writing columns that helped raise $66,000 in behalf of a 5-year-old girl with leukemia. In 2003 he wrote about a third-grade student who started a penny drive to purchase teddy bears for needy children. He asked every reader of The Telegraph to send one penny, and when the drive ended the student had collected 700,000 pennies.

   As a volunteer Little League coach he used his columns to campaign for the city of Macon to start a Miracle League for special needs children, which became a reality in 2005. He has been a campaign chair for the March of Dimes and has served on the board of directors for the Salvation Army, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Macon Lions Club. Through his columns he has supported local efforts to build and repair homes for low income families.

   Grisamore has been writing columns for The Telegraph since 1996.  He is the author of six books and has won more than 45 writing awards.

   Ed and his wife Delinda will attend the 2010 NSNC conference, which is being held at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., July 8-11. A highlight of the program will be the presentation of the Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award to Carl Hiaasen, columnist for the Miami Herald and an award-winning novelist.

   The Will Rogers award, named for the humorist and newspaper columnist of the 1920s and 30s who performed many humanitarian acts, is presented annually to a columnist whose work produces tangible benefits for the community served by his or her newspaper. The program, which began in 2000, is sponsored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists with support from the Will Rogers Memorial at Claremore, Okla.

   The award, a miniature of Rogers’ statue in the U.S. Capitol, also carries a $500 stipend. Nominations may be made by editors or community leaders.

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