At a time when many area organizations face fundraising challenges, the Rotary Club of Tulsa is helping fill the void. One of Tulsa’s largest community service organizations will present checks totaling $24,000 to two local charities at its weekly meeting at noon, Aug. 31, at Thomas Hall in First United Methodist Church, 1115 S Boulder Ave.
The proceeds come from the Rotary Club of Tulsa’s largest fundraiser, the Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Awards event. This program recognizes athletes who excel in sports, and of greater importance are involved in serving the community, and as such serve as excellent role models for youth.
Two local non-profits were identified as primary beneficiaries of this year’s awards program. Checks, totaling $12,000 will go each; Special Olympics Oklahoma and The Little Lighthouse. Collegiate scholarships for high school citizen athletes and the Rotary Club of Tulsa Foundation, which distributes funds to Tulsa area non-profits in need, also were beneficiaries of this prestigious awards program.
“The two major beneficiary organizations selected this year align closely with the mission of Rotary,” says Dana Birkes, co-chair of the 2016 Henry P. Iba Awards. “Both are operated responsibly and support children with special needs and are dependent on community donations to sustain the critical services they provide.”
Special Olympics provides a year-round program of sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Today 11,600 Special Olympics Oklahoma athletes participate in more than 140 sports competitions and training clinic opportunities every year. Competition is offered in 16 official sports. There are opportunities for thousands of volunteers.
The Little Light House serves children with special needs, providing tuition-free individualized special education and therapeutic services to children ages birth to six. It also offers training programs for college students and professionals who work with children with special needs both locally and around the world.
In addition to the $24,000 donations, the Rotary Club of Tulsa instituted a high school citizen athlete male and female award program for the first time this year. This program awarded $5,000 to high school athletes. This included scholarships to two local high school athletes, Sarah Bateman, a Booker T. Washington student and volleyball athlete, and David Warriner, a Union High School student and football athlete. Each holds a 4.3 grade point average and has volunteered and raised money extensively with a number of local organizations – Bateman with the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice, Catholic Charities, Day Center for the Homeless and the Community Food Bank; and Warriner with Domestic Violence Intervention Services, John 3:16 and as an Eagle Scout.
“These students and the runners-up in the high school citizen athlete program are role models in their own right as they have demonstrated not only their passion and strong performance in sports, but they are also what the Henry P. Iba Awards are all about – citizen athletes,” says co-chair Michael Birkes. “Like the professional athletes we honor, these high school students demonstrate that giving to their communities is as important as giving their all in the sports arena.”
The remaining funds from the Henry P. Iba Awards program, approximately $60,000, is allocated for the Rotary Club of Tulsa Foundation. This Foundation typically distributes more than $100,000 grants a year to other Tulsa non-profit organizations in need throughout the year.
The Rotary Club of Tulsa is among the 20 largest of 35,000 Rotary Clubs worldwide. Since 1915, the “downtown” Rotary Club has been instrumental in founding the Tulsa Boys’ Home, Children’s Medical Center, the community’s first Big Brothers-style organization, and the forerunner of the Tulsa Area United Way. Today, the club’s 40 committees actively pursue projects that benefit youth, the arts, and improve and beautify the Tulsa community. The Rotary Club of Tulsa has been recognized for its annual humanitarian water-well drilling program in Nicaragua, where it has drilled more than 350 wells to provide safe drinking water in areas where water was not readily available. Rotary’s signature event is the Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Awards that recognizes national sports figures for their athletic abilities and outstanding commitment to give back to their communities. Proceeds from the event bolster the Rotary Club of Tulsa Foundation, a non-profit foundation, which has provided more than $1 million in grants to local charities.
Rotary International is the world’s largest service organization with clubs in 200 countries and jurisdictions. Because membership reflects all religions and political persuasions, the organization is uniquely positioned to carry out humanitarian efforts, such as polio eradication, literacy programs, providing drinkable water, youth exchanges and post-graduate international scholarships. More information is available at www.tulsarotary.com.