It's here. Tonight, thousands of people will crowd into the FireLake Arena for the Newsboys United Concert. In less than 24-hours, the arena staff will completely transform the space into a banquet setting for more than 900 people. At that Best of Preps event, we will celebrate the best athletes and students in our three-county coverage area.

It's here.

Tonight, thousands of people will crowd into the FireLake Arena for the Newsboys United Concert.

In less than 24-hours, the arena staff will completely transform the space into a banquet setting for more than 900 people.

At that Best of Preps event, we will celebrate the best athletes and students in our three-county coverage area.

Students from Shawnee, Asher, Bethel, Chandler, Dale, Earlsboro, Macomb, Maud, Meeker, McLoud, Prague, Seminole and Tecumseh were in the running for awards for top athletes in 22 different sports and the Student of the Year competition.

The Male and Female Athlete of the Year will each receive a $500 scholarship. All 16 students of the month will receive $500 or $200 scholarships and the overall winner will be awarded a brand new Jeep Renegade from Patriot Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram in Chandler. They are a huge sponsor of the Best of Preps event. But their investment in the communities doesn't stop Monday night. This isn't the only car they are giving away this week.

It's easy to say you believe in a project, but when you sponsor two events and give away two cars in 72 hours, you prove that giving back to the community is important to you. Tatton Manning and Seth Knighton wouldn't do business any other way. It has been an honor to work with them to bring this event from an idea to fruition.

It was also a pleasure to work with Dr. Linda Capps, Tribal Vice Chairman of CPN, and Oklahoma Baptist University Director of Development Josh Trimble, who worked tirelessly as judges in the Student of the Year competition.

It will come as no surprise to Shawnee residents that there were a lot of local businesses and institutions who jumped at the chance to be a part of a huge event to honor local students for their outstanding achievements.

That is a thread that is woven into the fabric of this community. From businesses like Shawnee Milling and Georg Fischer Central Plastics, who have been a part of the rich history of Shawnee, to newer businesses who understand how important events like this are, Shawnee is filled with great businesses.

Forgive me for listing our Best of Preps sponsors in a column, but you should really know who they are. from our Advertising Director Brad Casto securing sponsors, to the sports staff members who cover events and help select winners, the News-Star has a put a lot of work into making Monday night special.

But none of our work would matter without the sponsors who make it possible.

Sponsors include:

• Patriot Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram of Chandler

• FireLake Arena

• Miracle Ear

• Citizen Potawatomi Nation

• Belfair of Shawnee

• Georg Fischer Central Plastics

• Shawnee Milling

• Angelic Family Hospice

• Shawnee Honda-Polaris-Kawasaki

• Buffalo Wild Wings

• Bar-S Foods

• Oklahoma Baptist University

• Sparks HVAC

• Performance Course

• Amy Price Shelter Insurance

• Cornerstone Chiropractic

• Paul's Place

• Extreme Roofing

• Sen. Ron Sharp

• Holiday Inn Express

• AllianceHealth Medical group

• Pinecliffe Printers

• FireLake Designs

and

• Ed Bolt, who is providing photos of the event and the winners.

We also had sponsors who purchased tables at the event to allow all of the athletes and other honorees to attend for free. Sooner Stoneworks, Santa Fe Steakhouse, Midfirst Bank, First United Bank, CBD A Healthier Life, Ell's Jewelry, Cooper Funeral Home, Billy Boys BBQ, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, The Clinic Pharmacy, KoolStuff, Canadian Valley Electric, Rustic Rose, Signworks, The Eaton Corporation and T-Town Nutrition all helped make sure those free tickets were possible.

I wasn't kidding when I said we had no trouble finding people and businesses in this area to work with us to make Monday night a big success.

After a great dinner from Paul's Place, we will award small school, large school and overall player of the year awards in all of the sports we cover. Every finalist will be honored at the event and with a certificate to commemorate their nomination.

Our athletes of the week will be also be honored.

Then the night will culminate with one of the student of the year candidates winning a brand new Jeep Renegade.

With the car, the scholarships, the tag and title fees for the student and 90 plaques, more than $27,500 in prizes and scholarships will be awarded to deserving students and athletes Monday night.

I hope the students and community are as excited about the event as we area.

Getting to know these young people and their stories is inspiring. Working with sponsors and supporters who are excited about honoring them is gratifying.

We started working on Monday night's event as soon as last year's ended. The crowd this year will be almost twice as big. More students will win more prizes and scholarships than ever before. Someone will win a new car.

We only have one day left to put on the finishing touches.

Doors open at 5:45 p.m., Monday. We'll be ready and we can't wait to see everyone there.