Miami’s cycling community is a close-knit one, especially at Mack Cycle and Fitness on Sunset Drive. So when it came time to honor one of their own, for 25 years of dedication, the party was special.
Pretty much everyone knows Georgia Johnson at the flagship store. She answers the phone and is one of the first people to greet you when you walk in the door.
“She’s the first smile people see when they come into the store,” said Sandy Losada, the youngest member of the Mack Cycle family. “She’s known by all of our customers and by our local community. She is one of the main reasons why our store feels like a home.”
Johnson, born and raised in Miami, is the sister of former MLB All-Star Andre Dawson. She began her career at Mack Cycle on May 25, 1994, after striking up a friendship with the bike shop’s owners, Mary Jane Mark and Mark Losada, at her previous place of employment.
Mary Jane Mark decided to recruit her for a position at the store and since then, Johnson has been a fixture at the company and in the cycling community.
“She considers cycling as a key component to her active lifestyle, regularly taking part in group rides and major cycling events in South Florida,” Mary Jane Mark said.
At the party, catered by Sue’s Kitchen, the Mack Cycle family presented Johnson with a surprise new high-performance bicycle. She’s a regular rider in the Dolphins Cancer Challenge that benefits Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Institute. The yearly cycling event is sponsored by Mack Cycle and proceeds support cancer research.
“Dr. Nimer from Sylvester is a Mack Cycle customer and I was inspired to ride and raise money for this great cause,” Johnson said. “In 2020, I hope to be a ‘Heavy Hitter,’ raising over $2,500. I hope my friends and customers can help me.”
“My bike life doesn’t end at the doors of Mack Cycle. I also teach children how to ride a bike for their very first time on my own time,” she said.
To the Mack Cycle family—Mary Jane Mark, husband Mark Losada, and their children Sandy and Rachel—Johnson is a big part of the team and the family.
“Rachel calls me her second mom. Sandy calls me her Auntie Georgia, and
Mary Jane calls me her sister from another mother. I guess I’m family,” Johnson said.
“Bicycling is my life. I appreciate Mary Jane Mark and her family for making me part of theirs.”
TEEN’S QUEST TO HELP KIDS
Jamie Cohen, 15, a rising junior at American Heritage School Plantation, is on a years-long mission to help children. In fifth grade, she started a nonprofit called Peace, Love, Smile with a focus on feeding and teaching children and teens.
One aspect of her group she calls Peace, Love, Eat and she has taught more than 40 girls how to cook quick, healthy meals.
“I go to Children’s Harbor, a local foster care facility and give cooking lessons to a group home once every other month. The girls seem to really enjoy the lessons and I leave them extra ingredients and a recipe book so they can make the meals again when I am not there,” Jamie said.
“Through Peace Love Eat, I have learned how to teach, and I developed skills with public speaking. After my first few events, teaching became easier and I noticed an improvement in the girls’ skills in the kitchen. I remember on my fourth event at Children’s Harbor, I walked into the house and one of the 8-year-olds ran over to me and gave me a hug. She looked up at me, and when I told her we were making mac and cheese, she started jumping with excitement.”
The second part of Jamie’s non-profit is called Peace, Love, Comfort. Since fifth grade she has been South Florida chapter president of the national organization Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (SAFE), a 20-year nonprofit through which volunteers have donated over 500,000 stuffed animals for children in need.
“People donate new or used stuffed animals to me and I count, clean, and distribute them to other charities. I have collected over 4,000 stuffed animals over the past five years, donating them to several places, including Romania and different places around Florida. I loved stuffed animals when I was younger and as I began to give them away, I looked up any organization that could help other children with animals.”
This year, she said she partnered with her brother, Jared, and did a stuffed animals collection drive at school. After mailing the animals, they received pictures from the organization that helps children in Romania.
“These animals are sometimes the first toy they have ever had,” Jamie said.
The last aspect of her group is called Peace, Love, Kindness in which she has a partnership with the organization We Finish Together, a medal-sharing group to help everyone feel more successful.
“This organization collects and decorates medals for people in need, including hospitalized people and underprivileged children. As fleet president at We Finish Together, my fleet has decorated over 300 medals,” Jamie said.
“My chapter consists of six girls who would love to make a difference in people’s lives. While we are decorating medals, and I know they are going to someone who is fighting an illness, I am excited to find unique sayings and decorations to help them to feel better.”
“The most memorable part of this experience is knowing that I made an impact in someone’s life and made them feel joyful through a donated stuffed animal, decorated medal or a cooking class,” she said.
“I would tell other young people that there are so many ways you can help out in the community and the smallest thing can impact someone’s life forever.”
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