It was getting late on Tuesday. Nearly all the Division II & III corps had finished and the wrap-p area was congested with three corps in various stages of post-show procedures. Some were having pictures taken. One group huddled around the TV monitor to check out their performance. Still another corps had circled up to get praise and instruction from directors and staff. Amidst all the bustle stood a small tractor hooked to a trailer loaded with pit equipment. Nestled in between a timpani sat a small woman in a pink shirt and cream shorts, calmly sipping water. It was a study in contrast: this distinguished lady among sweaty youth about their business. The lady, Dorothy Johnson, or "DJ" as she's known by the kids, is 76 years young. "Actually, they also call me 'the little old lady'," Johnson gently laughed. DJ is sharp and quick with a smile as she talks a bit about her adventures this year. Back in March, DJ had open heart surgery to replace a valve. "I was in the middle of cardiac therapy when I got a call from the Blue Stars," she recalls. "They were in a real bind and needed someone to sew their guard uniforms." Her doctor said she could do anything she wanted, "But I don't think he meant that!" she laughs again. "I finished and caught up with them three weeks ago in DeKalb," said DJ. She wants to make sure we know that the Blue Star performers "are the most polite kids I've ever seen in a drum corps." DJ knows about kids and corps. Three of her children marched in the Kiewanee Black Knights many moons ago. As we left, DJ held on to the timp legs and took a ride on the tractor to load up the corps truck. Even as her heart was mending, she was giving it away to corps kids who needed her. FOLLOW UP: In the entire conversation with DJ, she never let on that she is actually receiving the Volunteer of the Year Award. A heart of gold, humble as pie, and just what this activity needs.
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