Leon County Tourism Awards Honor Gulf Winds Track Club & DoubleTree by Hilton's John Kelly

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Oct. 3, 2017) – A local running club and the General Manager of one of Tallahassee’s landmark downtown hotels were honored tonight with the Thomas A. Waits Distinguished Leadership Awards (a.k.a. “Tommy Awards”), recognizing an organization and an individual who made significant impacts on the Tallahassee-Leon County tourism industry.

Gulf Winds Track Club and John Kelly, general manager of DoubleTree by Hilton, received the awards at the Annual Marketing Rollout hosted by Leon County Division of Tourism (Visit Tallahassee), held at Proof Brewing Co.

For more than 40 years Gulf Winds Track Club (GWTC) has been the driving force for the running community, bringing together joggers, runners, race walkers and triathletes of all skill levels. The club played a significant role in the planning and development of Leon County’s Apalachee Regional Park and elevating its reputation as one of the premier cross country venues in the nation.

Additionally, GWTC facilitates various running events throughout the region including the Tallahassee Marathon/Half Marathon, Springtime 10k/5k/1M, Turkey Trot, Palace Saloon 5k and the Summer Trail Series.

Mr. Kelly has been involved in the local tourism industry for nearly a decade and is a leader in the community. In addition to his management role at the DoubleTree by Hilton, he is a member of the Tourist Development Council and teaches classes at the Dedman School of Hospitality. He previously served on the Board of Directors for the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA).

Mr. Kelly has mentored and trained several managers who now hold prominent positions with various organizations in Tallahassee tourism industry and across the U.S. He takes great pride in training and developing his team.

The awards have been presented annually since 2002. In 2003, they were officially named “The Thomas A. Waits Distinguished Leadership Award,” honoring the prominent leader in the tourism industry and former executive director of the Florida Hotel & Motel Association. Waits dedicated his career to economic development through tourism in Florida.

In 2010, the award expanded to recognize one individual and one organization that made a significant impact on tourism in Tallahassee-Leon County. Past award winners include:


2016 – Christopher Heacox, Director of Opening Nights Performing Arts
2015 – Ricky Bell, director of Student Activities for Leon County Schools
2014 – Bo Schmitz, General Manager of Four Points By Sheraton Tallahassee Downtown
2013 – Lee Daniel, Executive Director of Leon County Division of Tourism Development
2012 – Dr. Mark Bonn, Professor and Director of Distance Learning Programs at Florida State
            University’s Dedman School of Hospitality
2011 – Marc Bauer, General Manager of Hotel Duval
2010 – Russell Daws, Executive Director of Tallahassee Museum
2009 – Sharon Ligget, President of Tallahassee Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
2008 – Bill Hagen, Chair of the Tallahassee Sports Council
2007 – Donna Ross, President/CEO of Florida Attractions Association
2006 – Patricia Grosvenor, Director of Sales at Park Plaza Hotel
2005 – Mickey Brady, General Manager of Cabot Lodge North Monroe
2004 – Chucha Barber, Executive Director of Brogan Museum of Art & Science
2003 – Pace Allen, General Manager of Collegiate Village Inn
2002 – Althemese Barnes, Executive Director of Riley House Museum


2016 – Proof Brewing Co.
2015 – Council on Culture and Arts
2014 – Tallahassee Museum
2013 – The Challenger Learning Center
2012 – Hotel Duval
2011 – Augustus B. Turnbull III Florida State Conference Center
2010 – Mary Brogan Museum of Art & Science

About Leon County Division of Tourism/Visit Tallahassee:
The Leon County Division of Tourism (d.b.a. Visit Tallahassee) is the official destination marketing organization for Tallahassee-Leon County. The Division is charged with marketing Tallahassee-Leon County nationally as a premier leisure, business and sports destination through direct sales, advertising, public relations, sports, film and visitor services.

For more information go to VisitTallahassee.com or call toll free (800) 628-2688. Engage with Visit Tallahassee on social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @VisitTally, #iHeartTally.

Lauren Pace | Marketing Communications Director | Leon County Tourism (Visit Tallahassee)
w. (850) 606-2322 | c. (850) 443-9945 | Lauren.Pace@VisitTallahassee.com


Visit Tallahassee


Leon County Division of Tourism (Visit Tallahassee)

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