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Safety Town marks 12th year
Top volunteer knew award's late namesake
Safety Town 6 es
Deputy Page Cash gets a hug from Safety Town student Katelyn Cruz after the Safety Town graduation Friday afternoon at Shiloh Point Elementary School. - photo by Emily Saunders
A large crowd of little ones and their parents gathered Friday in the gym at Shiloh Point Elementary School for Safety Town’s annual graduation ceremony.

The event was put on by the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department.

The program, now in its 12th year in Forsyth, is part of a national effort designed to introduce kindergarten-age children to safety awareness and procedures.

Part of the festivities included awarding Safety Town instructor Jasmine Zaman with the Kiran Rao Volunteer of the Year Award.

Rao, 10, was an active volunteer with the program and a fifth-grader at Daves Creek Elementary. She died Dec. 21, 2007, as a result of injuries suffered 10 days earlier in an alcohol-related wreck on Market Place Boulevard.

Rao’s brother, Alexander, and mother, Jennifer Rao, also were injured in the crash.

Gregory Lee Wills, 41, of Buford was indicted in December by a grand jury on two counts of homicide by vehicle and one count of driving under the influence.

He also was indicted on four counts of serious injury by vehicle and one count of reckless driving in connection with the wreck.

Safety Town first gave the award last year.

Rao’s mother and brother presented Zaman, 15, with the award Friday.

Zaman, a rising sophomore at South Forsyth High School, said Rao was one of her neighbors.

“I feel honored ... She was a really great person and it was really sad to have to lose her,” Zaman said.

Marie Magoon, Safety Town director, spoke fondly of Rao.

“I can remember that little girl walking in and flinging her braid back,” she said. “She was the sweetest little thing and she may have been 10, but she was so responsible.

"She loved Safety Town. That’s why we’re doing this dedication for her every year.”

Magoon, addressed parents at the ceremony, said 80 children participated in the nine-day program this year.

“We hope they go home with a better understanding of how to stay safe,” she said. “Hopefully you as parents have learned ways to reinforce safety throughout their years.”

Forsyth County Fire Chief Danny Bowman and Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputies also attended the event.

E-mail Julie Arrington at