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Event supports literacy
Lions Club is Smarter than a 10 year-old
4 Are you smarter pic1
Lions Club members, from left, Ken Breeden, Marty Horne and Joe Hirsch celebrate after winning the Reading Education Association of Dawson Countys Are You Smarter than a 10-year-old competition Thursday. The event raised nearly $14,500 for local literacy efforts. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News


For more information about R.E.A.D., contact Sandy Lipkowitz at (706) 579-1771 or e-mail,

Age most definitely had its benefits Thursday night as the oldest contestant in Reading Education Association of Dawson County's annual "Are You Smarter than a 10 Year-Old" competition showed his younger counterparts some geography skills.

Representing the Dawsonville Lions Club, octogenarian Joe Hirsch edged Jill McKee of the Dawson County government team to name all of the U.S. states that border the Pacific Ocean.

Lions Club President Marty Horne said he knew Hirsch, who also serves as R.E.A.D.'s chairman, would be the team's "ringer."

"What a terrific guy. Thank God for Joe, our oldest member of the Lions Club," Horne said.

"We put him up there because he has a better memory than the rest of us. We are very supportive of literacy and education. We are proud to say that the Lions motto is ‘We Serve' and we try to show it by what we do and who we serve."

For those still scratching their heads, the answer was California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii.

McKee forgot the latter two, but still finished second in the competition, which raises funds for literacy initiatives in the community.

The teams of 400 Scrap & Waste and last year's champions the Rotary Club of Dawson County also made it to the final 1,000,000-point round but were sent back for not knowing in which hand the Statue of Liberty holds her torch - the right.

R.E.A.D. Executive Director Sandy Lipkowitz called the sixth annual event, which raised nearly $14,500, a huge success.

"I think tonight was one of the most fun nights we've had," she said. "We had great audience participation. The students were outstanding and really into the music and dancing and answering the questions and just really cooperating with each other."

Set up much like Jeff Foxworthy's popular TV game show, the event poses questions taught at the elementary school level. Fifth-graders from each of the county's elementary schools are on hand to help if the queries prove too difficult.

Eight teams competed for the title.

"The teams were wonderful. They had a sense of humor and cheered and jeered each other on. It was really great," Lipkowitz said.

"We appreciate so much the trust that our community puts in R.E.A.D. to improve literacy and to follow through on our initiatives and we're just grateful for the financial support that they give us for us to be able to do this."

Guest speaker Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner, who will fill the District 9 state House of Representatives seat in January, praised R.E.A.D. for its efforts to combat illiteracy.

"We need organizations that help people rise above their current situation ... organizations that provide tools and resources to people that can change their life circumstances, that can give them the resources to become a self-sufficient citizen of our community and someday be able to pay it forward and help someone else," Tanner said.

"When people don't have hope, they often turn to alcohol, drugs and a life of crime, and they become a burden on society. As a business owner and a longtime government manager, one of the things I like to look at is a return on investment. In doing so, I've found no better return on my investment for dollars than those that are spent on education -- providing someone an education, providing someone a hand up so they're able to make it on their own."

A portion of the event's proceeds go toward a scholarship for a graduating Dawson County High School senior in the spring.

R.E.A.D. will sponsor the scholarship in the name of the Dawson County Kiwanis Club, which was selected from among about two dozen local businesses and individuals that helped sponsor the event by purchasing letters in an alphabet raffle.