Cleveland community leader Beverly Phillips Johnson will serve as community chair for Great Strides 2019, according to campaign officials at Lee University. The 19th annual Great Strides Walk and 17th annual 65 Roses 5K, which raises funds and awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, will be held on Saturday, March 30.
“No one in Cleveland and Bradley County has earned a greater reputation for civic leadership than Beverly Johnson,” said Lee’s president Dr. Paul Conn. “We are so thrilled that she has accepted the challenge to lead the community effort in Lee’s Great Strides program. She is a person of such energy, ability, and a radiant spirit – she is a perfect fit for this wonderful event which brings the university and the community together for a great cause.”
Since 1996, Ms. Johnson has served as the personal representative and trustee for the George R. Johnson Estate and George R. Johnson Family Foundation, respectively. As a trustee, she sits on a board that distributes monies to non-profit charities in East Tennessee and North Georgia where her husband and his sister own and operate Hardee's Restaurants. Prior to this, Ms. Johnson served as vice president of First American National Bank (1986-1992) and SunTrust Bank (1992-2000).
Ms. Johnson has served the Cleveland community in roles such as president of the Cleveland Civitan Club and the Cleveland Family YMCA. She has also sat on the board of Chattanooga Metro YMCA, Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, MainStreet Cleveland, United Way of Bradley County, and served as PTO president and board member of George R. Stuart Elementary School.
In 1998, Ms. Johnson received the C.L. Hardwick Volunteer Award from the Cleveland Family YMCA. In 2014, she received an Empowering Women of the Year award from the Boys and Girls Club. The next year she was a recipient of the Chattanooga Women of Distinction award.
Ms. Johnson received her Bachelor of Science in accounting from Lee University and graduated from the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University.
She and her husband, Mark, are members of First United Methodist Church. They have two daughters, Maggie and Laura.
“As a community member and an alumna of Lee, I am pleased to support this event that brings together the Cleveland community and the university in partnership for a common cause,” said Ms. Johnson. “I have not been familiar with cystic fibrosis and the great progress being made to cure this terrible disease, but after learning from Vanessa Hammond about her son’s experience and the life-changing benefit the CF Foundation brings to people like him in our community, I’m eager to put on my walking shoes and do what I can to help!”
The Great Strides event consistently rallies hundreds of community participants and Lee University students to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Last year, the event drew over 1,000 total walkers, runners, and volunteers, who were a part of the Great Strides group that reached over $1 million raised for CF research since the local event’s founding in 2001.
Dr. Mike Hayes, vice president for student development at Lee, and Vanessa Hammond, CF parent and director of the office of grants at Lee, will serve alongside Johnson. Dr. Bill Estes, dean of Lee’s Helen DeVos College of Education, will direct the 65 Roses 5K road race. The university’s Student Leadership Council will provide volunteer support.
The route for the 2019 walk and 5K run (3.1 miles) will begin and end on the Lee campus and travel throughout Cleveland’s historic downtown area. The walk and road race, in partnership with Terra Running Company, will begin at 9 a.m.
Great Strides is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s largest national fundraiser, raising more than $42 million with over 125,000 participants at events all across the nation.
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is a nonprofit donor-supported organization dedicated to attacking cystic fibrosis from every angle. Its focus is to support the development of new drugs to fight the disease, improve the quality of life for those with CF, and ultimately find a cure. In the last 30 years, the life expectancy of a child with CF has doubled, and research is happening daily to find a cure and perfect drugs available to those living with CF.
For more information about the Cleveland Great Strides or to register, visit http://webpages.leeu.edu/cf/.
For more information about the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, visit https://www.cff.org/.