OICA Plans Virtual Heroes Ball for July
Oklahoma’s Heroes for Children to be Recognized
For the first time, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy’s annual Heroes Ball – celebrating Oklahoma’s heroes for children – will be a virtual event to protect the safety of those participating.
According to OICA CEO Joe Dorman, even though the event is scheduled for late July, “We want to err on the side of caution. The date is more than two months away, but COVID-19 may still be around, and people may still be uncomfortable gathering in large crowds.”
The OICA Board of Directors approved the idea of having the event live across the Zoom internet platform, allowing child advocates to participate from their homes. Plans are for the event to be broadcast live from its original venue, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, and include a mix of live hosts and recorded presentations. The event is slated for Friday, July 31 from 6-7 p.m. on Zoom. Ticket holders will be sent links and logins to connect with the webcast.
Tickets for the Zoom webcast will be $75 with no meal; for those who wish to have meals delivered to their homes from local restaurants around the state to be announced, the ticket will be $100. There also are various sponsorship opportunities for those individuals, businesses, and organizations who wish to support OICA with multiple tickets. Traditional table sponsors can host the regular 10 people who sit at a tabletop in a remote location and still be within social distancing guidelines. Go to www.oica.org for more information on tickets and sponsorships. In addition to honoring the state’s top child advocates, the Heroes Ball is OICA’s top fundraising event which funds most of the organization’s important programs.
“Those who attend the Heroes Ball help make sure we are able to continue our work on behalf of Oklahoma’s children,” Dorman said. “Having had to cancel so many fundraisers due to COVID-19, it is especially critical that our partners support the virtual Heroes Ball.”
As the event’s name suggests, the Heroes Ball will honor Oklahomans who are heroes to Oklahoma’s children. This year, the two recipients of the “Gateway to Leadership Award for Public Service” will be former Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee, the first Republican to lead the Oklahoma Legislature’s upper chamber, and former Oklahoma First Lady Rhonda Walters.
This award is given to former or retiring officials who have dedicated their lives to advocacy. Coffee is being honored for his legislative career, during which he was named to OICA’s Child Advocate Hall of Fame, and his work on the recent opioid lawsuit. While First Lady, Walters was a champion for childhood immunizations.
The Oklahoma Education Television Authority is the organizational advocate of the year for its work helping to educate the state’s students with distance learning during the COVID-19 school closures. From humble beginnings in a basement classroom, the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) now boasts more than two million viewers each week, making it America’s most-watched Public Broadcasting Service network.
Noble McIntyre will receive the individual advocate of the year award. An attorney, McIntyre leads McIntyre Law P.C. which focuses on representing severely injured clients across Oklahoma as well as nationally in connection with his Mass Tort Practice. Under his leadership, McIntyre Law, P.C. has been a constant champion for Oklahoma 4-H by recognizing 4-H members’ hard work through the Noble Cause Award, providing financial support to 4-H projects through his “A Noble Cause” program. Further, McIntyre orchestrates a program by attorneys to provide food to families during Thanksgiving.
The prestigious “Kate Barnard Perseverance Award for Lifetime Achievement in Child Advocacy” will go to Judge Doris Fransein. Judge Fransein was the chief judge of the Tulsa County Court’s juvenile division for 14 years. During her time on the bench, she instituted a variety of “best practices and programs and required ongoing training for attorneys, court staff, and social workers to help ensure improved outcomes for abused and neglected children, juvenile offenders, and their families.
Awards yet to be determined are the recipients of the Anne Roberts People’s Choice Awards for individuals and organizations. As the name suggests, Dorman said these awards come from the nomination and votes of child advocates. “Individuals and organizations can be nominated by the general public on our website at oica.org,” he said. “From there, the OICA Board of Directors will narrow down the nominees and the public will vote for the winners on the OICA website. The winners will be announced during the virtual Heroes Ball.”
The theme of the ball will follow up on last year’s 80th birthday of Batman by honoring the younger half of the “Dynamic Duo,” Robin, The Boy Wonder. This year marks the 80th birthday of that character. In April 1940, DC Comics introduced comics’ first youth sidekick, created to soften the dark tone of the Batman comics, and make the Dark Knight more attractive to younger readers.
Robin – perhaps the most iconic sidekick of all time, the “Boy Wonder” was a cheerful alternative to Batman’s brooding side. He literally burst onto the scene on the cover of Detective Comics #38. He was the first child superhero and has remained a staple of the Batman mythos for the last eight decades.
For more information about the Heroes Ball, to nominate an individual or organization for a People’s Choice Award, or to find out how you can help OICA continue its mission of fighting for Oklahoma’s children, go to the website at www.oica.org or call 405-236-KIDS (5437).
PHOTOS: Former Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee, Former First Lady Rhonda Walters, Noble McIntyre, and Judge Doris Fransein.