College-bound students (L-R) Justin Coley, Miles Richardson and Hailey Fisher join 1968 Olympic gold medalist Dr. Tommie Smith in recreating his iconic black-fist salute at the 2022 International Trailblazer Awards (photo courtesy of JABY, Inc).

JABY (Just About Blessing You) Inc., a Stone Mountain-based non-profit whose philanthropic efforts involve mentoring, community service, scholarships and endowments, hosted its 2022 International Trailblazer Awards Sunday in Decatur.

The organization honored the following awardees:

Georgia State Representative Billy Mitchell

Dekalb County Superior Court Judge Asha Jackson

Olympic gold medalist and civil rights activist Dr. Tommie Smith

Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman Grady Jarrett

Businessman Leighton Hull

Chick-fil-A Vice President Rodney Bullard

Univ. of South Carolina Women’s Basketball Coach Dawn Staley

Southwest DeKalb High School Band Director James Seda

Moderated by JABY, Inc. CFO Ceasar Gaiters and mistress of ceremony Allison Lockhart, the International Trailblazer Awards recognized those individuals whose business accolades and/or commitment to service were exemplary, and had a positive impact on their respective communities.

“This evening is all about honoring the brightest and most deserving community leaders,” said Lockhart. “They embody the importance of service to the fullest, and I am in awe of all they have done to give back, and support those in need in their communities.”

The awards ceremony began with a short video of Dr. Tommie Smith’s iconic 1968 protest at the Mexico City Olympics, where he and fellow U.S. teammate Carlos John raised black-gloved fists in the air during the playing of the national anthem. Smith took this moment to reflect on his own youth, and then shared why the need to mentor the youth is so critical.

“I believe in raising our youth in the way that they should go, and they might not ever forget that our work is always needed,” Smith said. “And I’m very thankful to everybody, for doing your duty.”

Another prominent awardee was Georgia state representative Billy Mitchell, who was presented the Irvin J. Johnson Award by the trophy’s namesake, who serves as tax commissioner of DeKalb County. During the presentation, Rep. Mitchell discussed how the support of his spouse was so instrumental to his professional success, and why service should be the lifeblood of any community.

DeKalb County Tax Commissioner Irvin J. Johnson presents Georgia state representative Billy Mitchell with the Irvin J. Johnson award at the JABY, Inc. 2022 International Trailblazer Awards (photo courtesy of JABY, Inc.)

“He who will be the greatest among you will be a servant,” Mitchell said. “I hope it inspires some of you to be servants; that’s what our community needs more than anything else. If we could have more folks that are in the sphere of serving, we can have a better community.”

Along with trophies presented to the event’s honorees, scholarships were awarded to students who will begin college in the fall. The Ceasar Gaiters, Jr. Scholarship was awarded to Kylie Jones (Georgia Southern University), Hailey Fisher (University of Maryland Eastern Shore), Miles Richardson (University of Maryland Eastern Shore) and Justin Coley (Georgia State University).

As the evening came to an end, Mitchell stressed the importance of events such as these, and reiterated that a commitment to service was needed now, more than ever.

“I wish my grandmother were alive to see me amongst these outstanding community and corporate and public servants here. The reality is: we need more people who are in public service, doing good for our community. It has an overall positive effect, and I’m just so humbled to be among those honored tonight.”