The 25th Annual Advocacy Awards & Volunteer Recognition event was held Dec. 3, 2015 at the Tulsa Marriott Southern Hills Hotel. More than 200 people enjoyed an evening of dining, entertainment, a special keynote speaker, and, most importantly, an opportunity to join TARC in recognizing outstanding volunteers and supporters of TARC programs.
Keynote speaker at the awards ceremony was Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author Ron Suskind who related his family’s journey of connecting with his son Owen who has autism through Owen’s obsession with Disney movies.
The special 25th edition of the TARC Advocacy Awards & Volunteer Recognition also included a seated dinner and entertainment by the Pathways Choir from Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church in Tulsa whose choir members include several individuals with developmental disabilities. Also performing was the Green Country Shining Stars – a cheerleading squad for special needs athletes ages 5 and older.
Awards were presented in 12 categories including a new Catalyst of Change category. This award was given to individuals, groups or organizations that have been catalysts for significant positive change in improving the lives of Oklahomans with developmental disabilities. Catalyst of Change Award winners were: Michelle Hoffman, Homeward Bound Parents, Donna Nigh, and Partners in Policymaking.
The other Advocacy Award winners were: Wanda Felty, Advocate – Board Member; Darla Hill-Myers, Advocate – Case Manager; Marie Hamilton, Advocate – Direct Care Provider; Shanda Moody, Advocate – Educator; Kelly Piper, Advocate – Professional Provider; Ellyn Novak Hefner, Advocate – Volunteer; Rep. Jon Echols, Elected Official; Jennifer Karner, Self-Advocate; Mike Averill, Media Advocate; Kodey Toney, Parent Advocate; and Camp Fire Green Country, Special Achievement in Advocacy.
Receiving the President’s Award was The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, and the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to James Nicholson.
In addition to these awards, OK AIM and ARCCorps volunteers who have served for 5, 10, 15, and 20 years were recognized for their dedication and service to Oklahomans with developmental disabilities.
Donna Nigh, winner of the
Catalyst of Change Award
and her husband, former
Governor George Nigh