‘And a good time was had by all …’ – OICA’s Heroes Ball is in the books

Joe Dorman, Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy 
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy held our annual Heroes Ball on Friday, July 30. The event was special this year. 

We held the first (that we know) simulcast nonprofit event in Oklahoma for a program of our size from two separate fantastic venues. We had great crowds at the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City and the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa.
Encore Events ran the broadcast live with masters of ceremonies at each venue setting up the speakers who were prerecorded. Not only were we able to get back together, but we also had a Zoom for people to watch from home. Special thanks go to Randy Cassimus with Harmony Media for masterfully editing the speeches and keeping us on schedule.

Among the prestigious awards is our annual Anne Roberts People’s Choice Award; we had a record number of online votes for it this year. The State Department of Education swept the awards with SoonerStart winning the organization award and Melissa Ahlgrim, Director of Reading Sufficiency, winning the individual advocate.

Other heroes for children honored were Chad and Charis Richison; Bob and Jean Harbison; frontline workers at state, county, and tribal health departments for their heroic vaccination work; the producers for the “Tulsa Burning” documentary; as well as the Honorable Judy Eason McIntyre and the Honorable J.C. Watts.

An event such as this takes months of planning and dedication to execute. This was done by our outstanding team of OICA board members and employees, along with selfless volunteers who help with this each year.
This event, especially in the middle of a pandemic, is difficult to make happen I appreciate everyone who had a hand in seeing this be successful in our fifth time to hold the Heroes Ball. I especially want to thank the health department workers who attended and set up a vaccination station to provide COVID-19.

I also need to thank each of our honorary banquet chairs: the former Congressman J.C. Watts, former Congressman Dan Boren, and Senior Vice-President Mary Blankenship Pointer with Frontier State Bank. Our board event chair, MJ Barton, also dedicated a tremendous amount of time to helping pull things together for the event, and auctioneer Bailey Ballou from Elgin helped us sell several items to help secure extra dollars.

OICA did everything we possibly could to ensure safety was our utmost priority. We limited attendance at both in-person venues and provided masks for people at our check-in, along with the encouragement to wear them. I only took mine off while giving my closing speech and when taking a few pictures with people at the end. 

I have had COVID-19 and I certainly do not want to go through that experience again, nor do I want to see any of our guests contract it. Please keep masking and if you have not gotten your COVID-19 vaccination yet, please consider doing so to protect those around you.

OICA now shift our focus to assisting with First Lady Sarah Stitt’s “Back to School” event by providing backpacks through the OK Foster Wishes program. 

We have begun planning for our virtual Fall Forum, which will shape our legislative agenda for 2022. Please go to oica.org  to learn more about how you can be a part of our work. 

About OICA: The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens seeking to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk. Our mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action, and changing policy to improve the health, safety, and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.”