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By Tasha Mahurin
People from across East Tennessee joined together with the Great Smoky Mountain Council of Boy Scouts last week to honor Governor Bill Haslam and First Lady Chrissy Haslam with the 2013 distinguished citizen award. Over 700 people filled the Knoxville Convention Center for the 26th Annual Distinguished Citizen Dinner which also serves as a benefit for the Boy Scouts of America.
“It was great to see our local mayor, now governor and his wife, receive this award,” Knox County Commissioner and Great Smoky Mountain Council board member R. Larry Smith told The Focus. “He and his wife are very deserving individuals.”
Governor Haslam and, wife, Chrissy, were selected by the council as this year’s honorees because of their love and commitment to community service and improving the lives of young people all across Tennessee. Furthermore, they have set excellent leadership examples both as the Mayor and First Lady of Knoxville and, now, as the Governor and First Lady of the state of Tennessee. According to friends and family members, they both live by the Boy Scout creed in their daily life.
The February 21 dinner served as a kickoff for the 2013 Friends of Scouting Campaign. The overall campaign goal is $1,326,000 this year. This year’s dinner raised approximately $790,000 towards that goal. The Boy Scouts depend on donations from individuals, businesses, corporations, foundations and the parents of Scouts, to provide more than 47% of the annual budget, Cindy Hiatt of the Great Smoky Mountains Boy Scout Council confirmed.
“Donations made to this campaign will, in-part, go towards capital improvements at our camps,” Commissioner Smith, who has been involved in the Boy Scout program in North Knoxville for over 20 years, told The Focus. “We’re doing a great deal to improve our camps.”
The Great Smoky Mountain Council, Boy Scouts of America is a United Way agency that serves youth across 21-counties of East Tennessee with over 12,600 youth who participate in year-round scouting programs through the council. Programs include Cub Scouting for boys ages 6-10, Boy Scouting for boys ages 11-18, Venturing (outdoor adventure) for boys and girls ages 14-20, Exploring (career education) for boys and girls ages 14-20 and Learning-for-Life, an in-school Character Education program available to K-12 students, both boys and girls.