1. What happened on your most unforgettable birthday?
I ran my first 5K – 3.1 miles! I had just started taking a running class less than two months before the run. The day that I turned 45 years old, feeling ready to conquer the world, I put on my running shoes and ran the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. I did it in honor of two friends - one who had just finished her last chemotherapy treatment the week before the race, and the other who had passed from breast cancer two days before. That morning, I pinned photographs of both of them to my shirt and ran like I had never run before. I came across that finish line crying like a baby. It was so emotional. I know these courageous young women gave me the strength to reach my goal. It was my best birthday ever. I will never forget that day.
2. Do you have a nickname?
Yes, my nickname is Gigi. It is pronounced Gee Gee. My aunt gave it to me. Gigi was the name of my aunt and my mother’s favorite movie in the 60's. Most people didn't even know my name was "Dawn" until I showed up on television in my hometown. In fact, one family friend actually called my mother when I first started working as a reporter at WTOC-TV and said, “There is a new girl on Channel 11 who looks just like Gigi, but they keep calling her Dawn.” My mother laughed as she told her friend, who has known me since I was a baby, that my real name is Dawn and Gigi is just my nickname.
3. Do you play any musical instruments?
Yes, I took piano lessons for quite a few years. I also started playing the clarinet when I was in the seventh grade. In high school, I took music very seriously. I rarely put that clarinet down. God bless my mother for putting up with all of my practicing. I can remember practicing in our den and often the squeaking would give her a headache, but she never complained. She always encouraged me to keep going until I could get it right. I played in the Savannah High School marching and concert bands. By my junior year, I was playing first clarinet and my band director named me one of the drum majors. I was drum major throughout my junior and senior years.
4. Have you always been a runner?
No, and I never thought that I would be a runner. However, in 2010, when I heard that the Rock N’ Roll Marathon was coming to Savannah, GA, I got this crazy idea that I wanted to run the half marathon. That may not be a big deal to you, but it is to someone over 40 years old who had never run before. I started by walking and then slowly jogging. A few months later, I joined the Fleet Feet Sports Savannah’s beginning running program, called “No Boundaries.” Little did I know that I would fall in love with running. I have really caught the fever. I can honestly say that I have never been more excited about anything else in my life. Now, I am training for my first half marathon in just a few weeks. I cannot wait! I will admit I am a turtle. I will NEVER win any trophies, but I am loving the fact that I am so excited about running. Believe it or not, our long runs begin at 6:00A.M. on Saturdays. Even though I work until midnight on Fridays and typically do not get more than two hours of sleep before the group runs, I actually wake up with a smile on my face when that alarm clock goes off. I seem to come to life when I meet up with my new friends in the group to hit the road running.
5. What else do you do in her spare time?
Of course, I love to write, but whenever I get a chance, you will find me with my camera taking hundreds of pictures. Photography is also one of my great passions. If I could no longer work as a television news anchor, I would definitely be a photographer. I love taking photographs of nature - mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, beaches, marshes, flowers, trees, butterflies, the sunrise, sunset, etc. When my mom and I went to a butterfly garden in Victoria, British Columbia (Canada), she made her way around the center and got the best laugh watching me try to chase down one butterfly. I must have taken more than one hundred pictures of butterflies. I took more than hour trying to make sure that I did not miss one of them.
6. Were you a senior superlative in high school?
Yes, my graduating class at Savannah High School voted me "Most Likely to Succeed.”
7. When did you get her first job as a television news reporter?
Just two days after taking my last final exam at Howard University, Raeford Brown, the news director at WECT-TV in Wilmington, NC, hired me as a general assignment reporter. I started working less than 5 days later.
8. Where is your favorite place?
I love being around the water. It’s where I am most at peace. I especially love being at the beach, but a lake or even a pond will do. The water has a very calming effect on me.
9. What was your ah- ha moment?
It came when I went on my first medical mission to the Konongo Village, Ghana in West Africa. I was amazed by the people who had so little, but their faith was unconquerable. Many of them did not have enough to eat, but they were happy, knowing deep in their hearts that God would provide and protect them and their families.
10. How would you describe yourself?
I am basically a very happy person. I love to laugh. I am definitely outgoing, energetic, aggressive, and rarely do I meet a stranger. I am compassionate, independent, strong, career–oriented, and adventurous.
11. What are your favorite movies?
The Notebook, Somersby, Coming to America, Soul Food, and Inception
12. What are your all-time favorite television shows?
24, Law & Order, Criminal Minds, 48 Hours Mystery, and Rescue Me
13. What are your favorite books?
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, Who Moved My Cheese?, An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work Place and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson, M.D., Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston, Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan, The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall, The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich by David Bach, and Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and It’s All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life by Richard Carlson, Ph. D.
14. What annoys you?
I am extremely annoyed by the way the rules of our English language have seemingly crumbled. Now, it is nothing unusual for pop culture to strongly influence how we speak. Some dictionaries now include words straight from popular songs and pop culture. You can now find definitions of words such as, booty call, booty popping, bootylicious, and jiggy. Even more disturbing, Webster’s dictionary, which used to be an authority on proper English, has in recent years developed a new section that they now call New Words & Slang. There, you will find words like I mentioned before. I guess I should give Webster credit because at least it is informing young people that those words are slang and not a part of the proper English language. It makes me very concerned about the future of our language, but most importantly, what will happen to our children as slang and improper language are drilled into their heads. I believe they are becoming more and more handicapped and will not be able to function well in the real world.
15. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
I would like to hear God say, “You did exactly what I wanted you to do. Welcome home… what took you so long?”