By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis graced the room as special guest speaker during the CHOICES 2015 Gala benefiting Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma (PPCO). The event recently took place at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
Attended by approximately 650 people, the event raised funds for PPCO’s general operations and educational programs serving central Oklahoma.
A silent auction and art sale opened the event followed by the dinner and program in the Sam Noble Room. The emcee for the evening was entertainment professional Cacky Poarch.
An attorney, author and 2014 Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Davis came from humble beginnings. As a single parent she put herself through school starting with community college. She earned a scholarship to Texas Christian University where she graduated first in her class. She then went on to graduate from Harvard Law School with honors.
Davis is perhaps best known for her historic 13-hour filibuster in the Texas Senate to kill a legislative effort that would have dramatically reduced women’s access to abortion care services in her state. She is widely recognized as a leader in the area of women’s healthcare.
Davis has shown passion on human rights issues, including her work to secure passage of the Texas equal pay for equal work law. She championed efforts against voter suppression; and advocated for victims of sexual assault resulting in legislation to clear a backlog of over 20,000 untested rape kits among several other major legislative reforms.
“It’ was such a thrill for us to host Wendy Davis,” said Marilyn Artus, CHOICES 2015 Chair. “Like Ms. Davis, PPCO is committed to helping those individuals still challenged by the healthcare system. From the onset of puberty through menopause and beyond.
“Planned Parenthood helps individuals better understand their own bodies, the challenges they face, and all available options,” Artus continued. “Keeping our services accessible will never be more important than it is now.”
The CHOICES art sale showcased dozens of works by 36 premier artists including Bert Seabourn, Denise Duong, Diane Coady, Suzanne Mears, Paul Medina, Sue Moss Sullivan and others.
“Our featured art this year was a watercolor by artist Lisa Jean Allswede, titled Our Words Define Us,” said Keri Parks, Director of External Affairs. “The piece represents the pink tennis shoes Senator Wendy Davis wore during her historic 13 hour filibuster.”
Allswede’s art was autographed by Davis and sold during the large silent auction which featured more than 100 items and packages ranging from restaurant and retail gift certificates to sporting event tickets and themed packages. .
“There was something for everyone,” said Parks. “It was also an opportunity to thank those who’ve been so generous and supportive toward Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma.
That evening PPCO recognized various individuals for their support.
Award recipients included: Martha Hardwick – The Margaret Sanger Legacy Award; Former State Senator Connie Johnson – The Rod Frates Choice Award; Ken Stein – The 2015 Volunteer of the Year Award; Dana Stone, M.D. PPCO Board President – the Board Service Award; Danielle Williams, External Affairs Coordinator and Shelly Seek, Clinic Coordinator – Outstanding Staff Service Award; and this reporter, Darla Shelden received The Sally Mock Friend of Planned Parenthood Award.
“Many guests at this year’s PPCO CHOICES event expressed to me how moved they were by guest speaker Wendy Davis’ message,” Artus stated.
“She was a single mother that came from a family that struggled to make ends meet. Without the easy access to reproductive care Wendy had during her early start, she said it would have been very hard for her to accomplish all she has so far in her life.”
For more information visit ppcok.org