One man’s tireless dedication to substance abuse prevention has earned him an award in his honor.

John Gill, special counsel in the Knox County District Attorney’s Office, was awarded the first John W. Gill, Jr. Substance Abuse Prevention Advocacy Award at the Metropolitan Drug Commission’s legislative luncheon in November. Gill is considered one of the “forefathers” of MDC for his longtime support of the organization. The award was presented by MDC’s first executive director, Jill Griffin.

In the early 1990s, Gill was instrumental in bringing a young Michael Jordan to Knoxville for a special basketball tournament creating substance abuse awareness in schools. In 1992, he coordinated widely-publicized DUI Forum with former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop as keynote speaker and talk show host Jerry Springer as moderator. The forum led to funding for additional DUI prosecutors, the establishment of a DUI Court and creation of a court monitoring system.

Additionally, Gill advocated for lowering the legal BAC limit in Tennessee from .10 to .08. Most recently, Gill helped garner support for the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

“This award could not have been named for a more deserving person,” Karen Pershing, MDC executive director, said. “John has been and continues to be a huge proponent of our efforts in Knoxville and statewide. He is truly committed to keeping our community safe and healthy.”

The award will be given out annually by MDC’s board of directors to members of the community who have made exceptional strides in the substance abuse prevention field.