When TEAM Georgia’s tenure with the Braves ended, Kinnard became a fixture at Atlanta Gladiators games at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth. While TEAM Georgia sometimes struggled to find volunteers in other places, Kinnard was often the captain of the duo that would work the booth for those games and other events in that arena. She made sure all the tools volunteers needed - paper, pens, vouchers, signs - were in the right places and stored away just so. Diehard Braves, Glads, and Swarm fans remember her well.
“[My son] would always sneak around the counter to give her hugs!!!” Karen Barrett said on a recent Facebook post about Kinnard’s volunteer work. “She almost always had a treat of some sort for him.” That kind of consistency and that extra touch made Kinnard memorable. She saw her work for TEAM Georgia as not only a move to make the state’s roads safer, but also a service to the people attending the games. Kinnard shined the light to those people.
“Sandy trained many younger volunteers. They learned from the best,” TEAM Georgia Executive Director Robert Cucchi said. Her consistency in not only showing up to volunteer, but also doing a great job made Cucchi and the other leaders worry far less about the work going on in the field. Kinnard was as dependable as seconds on the clock. She worked hard and networked like a champ.
Take Cucchi’s word for it: “Sandy had many friends who worked in various capacities at the [Infinite Energy[ Center who would come by our booth to visit with her.” And Cucchi couldn’t keep up with her, “I can’t tell you how many Braves fans would come by to just say hello to Sandy prior to the games. When I ran Booth #2 at Turner [Field], I could never come up with more than 25-30 [sober driving] signups.She would easily secure over 200 signups most games.There were tallies of 300 and more when she had additional help.”
The COVID-19 precautions halted all events where TEAM Georgia would run these booths. Kinnard fell upon some medical problems at some point during the pandemic and they eventually claimed her life on Thursday, August 27th, at 79 years young. A great grandmother, Kinnard had a big biological family, but her web of familiarity also extended far beyond her genealogy because of her zeal for safe driving and her unending warmth.
“Sandy made her volunteer work part of her life and would show up when she was feeling poorly,” Cucchi said. “It was hard to convince her that she didn’t have to show up during those few bad times. [She was a] very conscientious person. As I mentioned before, The Lord broke the mold when He created Sandy K.”
When sports and concerts resume, the TEAM Georgia designated driver booths will be back in place. But working them won’t be the same. I worked several events with her and experienced Sandy Kinnard’s light firsthand. Add to Kinnard’s legacy and go to TEAMGeorgia.net to join the cause and volunteer as she did. Captain Herb Emory was a founding TEAM Georgia member and continuing his giving legacy has taken a team. The same will now be true for Kinnard. Godspeed.
Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also hosts a traffic podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com .