I have pulled into the parking lot of Donner Center numerous times over the years to play table tennis, but I have never seen so many vehicles. A sense of pride hit me due to one of my colleagues and friends receiving a special honor. When entering the room where I have hit many table tennis balls and met some wonderful people, I immediately spotted many familiar faces and a few not so familiar.

I made a point of introducing myself to Jenny Elig who was working behind the tables filled with delicious snacks, the lady who wrote an excellent article about Barb Johnson being named The Republic's 2016 Woman of the Year. Then, I noticed Barb momentarily sitting by herself up front with lots of people facing her. Barb is not one that prefers the spotlight being on her, but it sure was good to see her there, so deserving!

Three individuals with much newspaper experience from The Republic soon joined her, Tom Jekel, Harry McCawley, and Chuck Wells. Tom paid tribute to the crowd while suggesting there likely would have been even more people if there had not been a Hope Town Council meeting.

Harry stated it was like a Thayer family reunion and knew that the Thayers were related to a lot of other families. He talked about the late Jean Prather, one-time features editor, who founded The Republic's Woman of the Year award in 1982, one given to women who contribute and make a difference in the community. Several previous winners were present and recognized.

He then discussed some of Barb's many accomplishments ranging from sponsoring Little Hoosiers to spearheading the moving of the one room schoolhouse down State Road 9 to the campus of Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corporation, which she continues to oversee the operation of, to her constant involvement with the Yellow Trail Museum. Many nominations were submitted, and Harry read several excerpts. One quote from a former Little Hoosier summed up Barb's impact, "It was the coolest club!"

Nancy Ann Brown, the 2015 recipient, then placed a custom-made necklace around Barb's neck. Chuck Wells presented two $1,000 checks to Barb for her designated charities. One went to Glen Keller for Simmons One Room Schoolhouse and the other went to Susie Dodd for the Yellow Trail Museum.

Then, Barb spoke thanking The Republic for sponsoring such an award and the crowd for attending. She emphasized how her family stood by her and gave a lot of credit to her husband, Ed.

Barb reminisced how being a Little Hoosier sponsor broadened her base of friends and increased her enthusiasm as well as the enthusiasm of students toward education, how the community got behind moving the one room schoolhouse over twenty-five years ago, and about the outreach of the Yellow Trail Museum. She praised the people recently involved in making the Bicentennial Torch coming through Hartsville a wonderful two-day event.

Barb puts her heart and soul into every project, and every person there was pleased to give her two standing ovations. Her final remark stressed the importance of helping our communities so that we all can be proud of who we are and where we're from, young to old.

I don't think one person left Donner Center thinking otherwise! Thanks Barb!