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Judy Behning has been named the 2024 Don Fennessy Volunteer of the Year, Grandma’s Marathon announced today.

Behning has shown unparalleled commitment to the event for more than 35 years, taking on numerous roles and leaving an undeniable mark on the success of Grandma’s Marathon, according to a GM press release.

After starting in the 1980s working crowd control at Lemon Drop Hill, Behning soon after moved on to pouring beer and collecting money at the event’s popular beer tents in Canal Park. It was there she met Linda Hanson, the race’s longtime Finance Director, and the two worked together on creating a more efficient and streamlined operation.

“When I got the news, I had to read it a couple times,” Behning said of receiving the Volunteer of the Year award. “I still can’t believe I was chosen; I’m honored to be included with all the past winners. I met Don Fennessy many years ago, and people like him make you want to do more for our community.”

Behning spent many years managing ticket sales for the event’s weekend festival, which recently transitioned from near the finish line in Canal Park to Bayfront Festival Park.

One of Behning’s favorite memories, though, from her decades volunteering with Grandma’s Marathon is from the early years when her children, Derek and Keely, joined to help hand out water bottles to the elite runners. The kids, then in grade school, are now each in their 40s and have been instrumental in the longevity of Behning’s career with the marathon.

Named after longtime Grandma’s Marathon volunteer and Board member Don Fennessy, this award recognizes individuals or groups who have donated a tremendous amount of time and, in doing so, have assisted in the successful operation of the event. Behning will officially be presented with her award on Thursday, June 27 at the 2024 Grandma’s Marathon Volunteer Appreciation Party at Wade Stadium in Duluth.


2024 – Judy Behning

2023 – Joan Andrews & Tom DeSutter

2022 – Shawn Carlson, David Pollard, & Mike Krzewinski

2021 – Darrin & Michelle Keiper

2020 – n/a

2019 – Mike Tipple

2018 – Peggy & Doug Simensen

2017 – Geri Peterson

2016 – Ellen & Wally Johnson

2015 – Cheryl Fosdick

2014 – Marge Swor & Family

2013 – Al & Jan Swanson

2012 – College of St. Scholastica

2011 – Jock Glendenning

2010 – John Herbertz

2009 – Woodland Hills

2008 – Brock Pelzel

2007 – Steve & Joyce Lent

2006 – Lyle Johnson

2005 – Barb & Terry Davis

2004 – Carol Gallinger

2003 – Sue Bussa

2002 – David & Jill Hisdahl

2001 – Buck McDonald

2000 – Chelly Ferguson

1999 – Durbin Keeney

1998 – Proctor Community Band & Mr. Moody’s Marching Band

1997 – Don & Ella Fennessy

1996 – Bruce & Colleen Hasforth

1995 – Jan DeRoche

1994 – Arrowhead Radio Amateurs Club

1993 – Ken & Mona Rae Cich

1992 – Herb Dillon

1991 – Ken Docteur

1990 – Seitz Family

1989 – Eric & Amy Kaiser

1988 – Candy Furo

1987 – Taire Lind

1986 – John Leppi

1985 – Ray Paavola

-- Grandma's Marathon press release