I’ve worked in newspapers for 25 years and I’ve never done anything that takes as much work or does as much good as our annual Best of Preps event.

The work begins before school starts each year and continues at a frenzied pace until the first Monday in May when we host the event. Sponsors make it possible. The athletes make it fun. Patriot Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Chandler makes it truly exciting when they give away a brand new Jeep Renegade to the Student of the Year.

Last year, we handed out more than $27,500 in prizes and scholarships.

This year, that total will grow.

One of the reasons it will grow is a new program that will return $2,000 to local sports programs and $1,000 to two lucky athletes. The BancFirst and Patriot CDJR Fan Favorites program will go live today on our website.

We will have posts about it on Facebook and Twitter, as well. Here is how it will work.

Each week, our sports staff selects two athletes of the week. Those Athletes of the Week will be featured in the Fan Favorites contest. You can vote once per day for your favorite Athlete of the Week for that month.

Each month, the winner will receive a $250 check for their school’s sports booster club or their team. Each monthly winner will be entered into the overall Fan Favorite contest. The male and female athlete who receive the most votes in the overall contest will receive a $500 scholarship to the school of their choice.

Those winners will be announced at the 3rd Annual Best of Preps event at Firelake Arena on May 6.

This is a great program because it gives back to the local sports programs and helps two lucky athletes pay for college. It also adds a fun new element to our Athlete of the Week program.

Like I said before, sponsors make these programs possible. I appreciate BancFirst and Patriot CDJR for jumping in as the first title sponsors for this program.

The Batting Cages at BDC, The Granite Shop, Central Disposal, Firelake Pizza, Firelake Bowling Center, Ell’s Jewelry, Santa Fe Steakhouse, Oklahoma Baptist University and Lobo’s Tires and Wheels all joined in to help sponsor this monthly program. Local businesses like these are always the ones who make sure great programs like this happen.

Make sure you do two things:

• Vote for your Fan Favorite every day, and

• Let these sponsors know you appreciate all they do to support projects like Fan Favorites and Best of Preps because none of that can happen without them.