I am happy to report the Heroes Ball, the first gala held by the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) in almost a decade, was a huge success.  The 400 attendees — many wearing super-hero themed outfits — were treated to a wonderful presentation by Dr. Deena Fisher regarding the history of Kate Barnard, the first Commissioner of Charities and Corrections for the state of Oklahoma who was elected in 1907.  We also heard remarks from Steven Novick, the attorney who represented the plaintiffs in the Terry D. Lawsuit, the court case which created OICA, along with comments from Laura Choate, one of our board members and an original plaintiff in that case.

The recipients of the Anne Roberts People’s Choice Awards were a pleasure to unveil.  The individual award went to Brenda Lene, an Edmond woman who created on online list for teachers to post their needs for the classroom.  The Facebook page, Oklahoma Education Needs/Donations, allows teachers and donors to connect on items necessary for their classroom duties.

Our second People’s Choice Award, given to a group or organization, went to Whiz Kids Oklahoma, a program operating in Oklahoma City that improves reading skills and comprehension while fostering mentoring relationships between kids and adults.

The other awards presented helped celebrate the work of many caring individuals and organizations.  Melvin and Jasmine Moran received the Kate Barnard Award, sponsored by the Chickasaw Nation, for her continued service to the children of Oklahoma.  Pastor Craig and Amy Groeschel of Life.Church were honored with the Sonic Commitment Award for their successful push to recruit foster and adopted parents. The Steven Novick Award went to KFOR, KSWO and KTUL, three Oklahoma television stations, for running segments on the Adopt OK Kids program, which helps kids in foster care who qualify for adoption to find loving, permanent homes.

In addition, OICA announced a new award which we will give to kids in Oklahoma whose work helps other children in-need. The new award, called the “Kidizenship Award,” will recognize five young Oklahomans under the age of 18 who have dedicated their time and hard work to a program which they have either created or taken to a new level to benefit others.  Watch oica.org for further details on how you can submit your nomination for a deserving Oklahoma youth, as well as submit nominations for the Laura Choate Resilience Award.  Both award winners will be named at our KIDS COUNT Fall Forum on November 2nd at the State Capitol.

Proceeds for the Kidizenship Award will come from our upcoming Political Hacks Chili Cookoff, a program which OICA recently took over to help keep this great tradition going.  The nonpartisan cookoff, which has existed for almost 40 years, brings together elected officials, campaign staffers, activists, and folks who actively participate in their government for a fun day of chili, music and camaraderie.  The event will be held September 30th in Oklahoma City, so check our website for how you can enter your pot of chili or come meet some of our elected officials.

Thank you to all who helped make the Heroes Ball a huge success, and I hope you will be able to join us next year.

OICA’s CEO Joe Dorman

OICA Operations Director Lori Mayhue (right) and husband John Mayhue (left) join three costumed Heroes Ball attendees
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