The following appeared in the March 19, 2003 issue of the the Gwinnett Daily Post

Volunteers honored for dedication
By Laura Ingram

LAWRENCEVILLE - Rick Upchurch was tricked Tuesday into coming to the 11th annual awards program for Gwinnett Parks & Recreation and Gwinnett Community Schools.

Upchurch thought he had to attend because he was new board member of the Gwinnett Parks Foundation. He continued to be fooled while he listened to the glowing description of himself as dedicated for Mountain Park Park.

When Mariann Brown of Gwinnett's parks and recreation department said, "avid runner," in her speech at the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse in Lawrenceville, he knew he'd been had and broke into a grin at the recognition.

"I'm excited, I'm flattered," Upchurch said after he received his plaque for being one of the department's volunteers of the year.

Upchurch is president and owner of a Lilburn landscaping company called Nature Scapes.

After he volunteered his expertise on which plants to plant and where, six community groups joined the effort to make it a true neighborhood park. Then he became a consultant for all parks.

Many others were recognized Thuesday, but some did not show, including Joan Tullis of Grayson Community School. Like most of the others, she was too busy being dedicated to her job.

Gwinnett Daily Post/Craig Moore

Maleia Lloyd, from left, smiles knowingly at her friend and award winner Rick Upchurch. She helped his wife, Cynthia Upchurch, get him to the awards program Tuesday so he could be surprised as winner of a new category in Gwinnett Parks & Recreation's volunteers of the year.

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