The community gathered Tuesday to listen to a reality star duo, raise money for youth and pay tribute to a woman dedicated to area children.

Boys and Girls Club

Friend of Youth award

Sue Nelson honored; McCoy brothers make an appearance


The community gathered Tuesday to listen to a reality star duo, raise money for youth and pay tribute to a woman dedicated to area children.

The 17th Annual Don Bodard Friend of Youth Banquet kicked off with a ribbon cutting in front of The Salvation Army building. The evening, built of laughter and inspiration, drew a large audience to honor award recipient Sue Nelson.

The Boys and Girls Club, recently renovated with funds provided by an Avedis Foundation grant, was available to tour. Updates to the space included colorful beanbags, flat screen televisions and wood flooring.

As supporters filed into the venue, video footage of club activities played and Pottawatomie County 4-H youth distributed refreshments. Oklahoma natives Jet and Cord McCoy, brothers and repeat contestants on CBS’ The Amazing Race, posed for photographs with fans, as children from the club performed a choreographed version of the song “You Raise Me Up.”

Dinner was served buffet-style and featured brisket, baked beans, potato salad and rolls. As plates were loaded with food, Sarah Weeks, Advisory Council Chair, asked Advisory Board and Women’s Auxiliary members to stand for recognition.

“We had a lot of hands going into this,” Weeks said.

Mike Shaw, master of ceremonies, took the stage and challenged the audience to partake in the silent and live auctions. He asked audience members to raise an arm in the air. Once arms shot up, he joked no one could use broken arms as an excuse for not participating.

“Those monies will go to youth programs, to better their tomorrow,” Shaw said.

Following a successful silent auction, the McCoy brothers commended the community for their efforts and spoke inspirationally. Jet described how important it is for children to persevere in all things.

“If there was one thing I could say to kids here, it would be to show up,” said Jet. “Sometimes the most important thing is just to show up.”

Cord took the crowd through the brothers’ worldly travels on the reality show.

“We get to represent Oklahoma,” Cord said. “It’s been quite a ride and quite a blessing.”

After the pair spoke to the significance of youth programs, club staff member Julio Sanchez was honored as the Boys and Girls Club Professional of the Year. Twana Griffith was honored as the Oklahoma Board Volunteer of the Year.

Nelson, vice president of Shawnee Vision Bank, then took the stage for the evening’s highlighted award, an honor bestowed to an advocate for youth. Past recipients joined her on stage.

“This is a group to be associated with,” Nelson said. “Wow.”

She described how she was nearly late to the event, because of her concern for two young girls who had just been involved in a vehicle accident. She said both girls would be okay. She encouraged everyone to remember how precious loved ones are and thanked the McCoys for attending.

“Cord and Jet, we’re so glad you came tonight,” Nelson said.

Shaw, referring to Nelson and the previous award winners, said the stage was full of extraordinary people. He continued to speak of the growth of the program.

“In 2013, we saw 15,239 kids pass through these doors,” Shaw said.

He said that number is remarkable, compared to 2010’s number of just over 3,000 engaged children. He said that is what dollars help do.

Salvation Army Lt. Philip Canning assisted in bringing the evening to a close. He thanked everyone in attendance and quoted William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army.

“‘I will fight to the very end,’” Canning said.