Telegraph columnist Ed Grisamore has been named the winner of the 2010 Will Rogers Humanitarian Award.
The national 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. Previous winners include Jeffrey Zaslow of The Wall Street Journal and the author of the national best-seller “The Last Lecture.’’
Grisamore will receive the award July 9 during the 34th annual conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.
“I am honored beyond words,’’ Grisamore said. “But this is more of a reflection on the community and the newspaper than an individual award. I’ve always said the finest people anywhere live in Middle Georgia. I’m a better person just for being around them.
“It helps that I have the best job in the world,” he said. “I have been able to combine my love for writing and telling stories with a heart for service. Sometimes I get in there and roll up my sleeves. Other times, it’s best for me to use the power of the written word and my platform as a newspaper columnist to bring together people who need help with people who can help them.’’
In nominating Grisamore for the award, Sherrie Marshall, executive editor of The Telegraph, cited a list of Grisamore’s efforts, especially his work leading The Reindeer Gang, the newspaper’s annual holiday charitable giving campaign. She called Grisamore “a wonderful ambassador” for The Telegraph.
“Ed has told the stories of Middle Georgians in need, an effort that dramatically increased donations to dozens of individuals and families,” she said. Middle Georgians contributed more than $90,000 in the past three years to help those in need.
Among his other community efforts, Grisamore has led guided tours and written daily columns during the Cherry Blossom Festival, learned ballroom dancing so he could participate in a Make-a-Wish fundraiser for a young girl with leukemia and taught writing at a popular summer camp for youths. He also organized a boot camp for aspiring writers and taught senior citizens to write their autobiographies.
As a volunteer Little League coach, he used his columns to campaign for the city to start a Miracle League for special needs children, which became a reality in 2005.
He has been a campaign chairman 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. He is a deacon at First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon.
Grisamore, a University of Georgia graduate, has been The Telegraph’s columnist since 1998.
He is the author of six books, one audio book and has won more than 45 writing awards.