If you call John Sewell and ask him to talk about his involvement with this year’s Mississippi Blues Marathon, he’s frank. “I haven’t really done anything, so I’m not the guy you want to talk to,” he laughed. After managing the branding, marketing and ad placement for the race for the last six years, Sewell can take a much needed break.

The 48 year-old Jackson native and Fondrenite stepped away from his job with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi last July, the sole sponsor of the race since its inception, where he was Director of Corporate Communications. This year, his race duties are much more lax.

“I have no influence or say whatsoever but my experience,” he explained. “(Race director) John Noblin has been a friend since 7th grade and I enjoy working with him on this.”

Not working frantically on race details is kind of an odd feeling for Sewell. “I’ll help put out mile markers at 4:30am Saturday morning, but once the gun goes off, I’m really just going to be around to be a person (Noblin) can point to to say, ‘Do this or that.’ It’s fun to be in a position to do whatever and help however I can.”

It’s kind of like Sewell’s new job and mission in life. As director of communications and marketing for Millsaps College, his alma mater, Sewell is “helping however he can” to spread the good news about “the Harvard of the South.”

“There’s such a tremendous story to tell,” he said. “I want to help Millsaps -  literally and figuratively – step off campus and become seen as the public square for dialogue about current events and interesting topics. I want to see the school positioned as a resource for business, government and medicine.”

Husband to Kim and father to Charlie, Jack and Maggie, Sewell says Millsaps affords his family that same opportunity to be that cultural hub. “The beauty of where I am today is that I’m in an environment where my kids can come to my office and experience conversations with a lot of people,” he explained. “I’m working at a place where I can take my ten year-old to hear a lecture on Roman frescoes and then he can go out with a professor and make Roman frescoes. That’s invaluable.”

A Fondrenite for the last sixteen years, Sewell said this is a place where you can’t help but be immersed in all that is going on. “Look at people like Jeff and Debbie Good and Terry and Meredith Sullivan and countless numbers who live in this area who step out and volunteer and make city a great place to live; it’s hard not to be inspired by that.”

Sewell, inspired by his own parents’ sense of volunteerism and community spirit, said it’s a lesson for his children to pick up on. “People here speak out, take action and get involved. I want my kids to grow up with a sense of responsibility for helping make the neighborhood and the city a better thing.”

Taking on that same sense of responsibility, Sewell joins a volunteer force on Saturday, one he said, is the heart of the race. “Volunteers introduce these runners to a tangible version of Southern hospitality,” he said. “Year after year, participants comment on how incredible those volunteers are. The role they play is tremendous.” And, he counts law enforcement and city support, too, among the success factors for a smooth event. “They step up to make sure the roads are in good shape and they’re there to make sure everyone is safe. Volunteers are the engine that drives it.”