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Oklahoma leaders will be honored at John F. Kennedy Community Service Awards dinner January 24. 

JFK CS Award dark 2
Patrick B. McGuigan

Oklahoma City – Former state Attorney General Drew Edmondson will serve as master of ceremonies of the John F. Kennedy Community Service Award dinner the evening of Tuesday, January 24.

Hundreds will gather at the historic Skirvin Hilton Hotel to celebrate the JFK awards presented to Mayor Mick Cornett, Rhonda and David Walters and Kari Watkins.

Cornett is the longest-serving chief executive in Oklahoma City history, and is in the midst of a term as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The Walters were the state’s first couple during his four years at the executive mansion. Since leaving office, David has led Walters Power International. Additionally, he spent much of the last decade as president of the board of directors for the Santa Fe Family Life Center. Rhonda and her husband have raised millions of dollars to support state and local charitable activities.

Watkins is executive director of the Oklahoma City Memorial & Museum.

Additionally, a past JFK award winner, former Attorney General Mike Turpen, will be honored for lifetime achievement. An author and charitable fundraiser, Turpen has been widely known for his declaration “If you ain’t givin’, you ain’t livin’!”

The moderator for the evening, Edmondson, was one of the first winners of the JFK award.

The evening will begin at 6 p.m. with a sponsors’ reception in the Centennial Ballroom on the historic downtown hotel’s second floor. At 7 p.m. in the ballroom across the hall, the dinner and program begins.

James Timberlake, executive director of the SFFLC, told The City Sentinel, “All of us here at the Santa Fe Family Life Center would like to express heartfelt thanks to this year’s generous supporters of the John F Kennedy Community Service Awards. Your support enables us to carry out our mission to individuals with disabilities and disadvantaged youth, and impacts the lives of thousands of Oklahomans each year.”

The JFK awards honor men and women who make a significant contribution to life in Oklahoma, its communities and its people, while paying homage to the memory of John F. Kennedy, the 35th president and a member of the Knights of Columbus, said event chairman Josef McGuigan.

Members of the Knights have long supported the work of the SFFLC. This is the seventh gala in support of the center, but the first to designate a lifetime achievement winner.

The Chickasaw Nation is presenting sponsor for this year’s event, with a lead gift of $25,000.

Standing as $10,000 Presidential Sponsors for the Santa Fe Family Life Center programs are American Fidelity, Association of Oklahoma General Contractors (AOGC), Bancfirst, Devon. Josef & Becky McGuigan, Knights of Columbus Oklahoma Council No. 1038, and Mark & Manda Ruffin.

Inasmuch provided $7,500 in support of the programs benefiting youth in the heart of Oklahoma City.
Contributing at $5,000 level as “Camelot sponsors” in support of the Santa Fe Family Life programs are The Bob and Mary Lou Lemon Family, Hal Smith Restaurant Group, AT&T, Kennedy Consulting Firm, Loves Travel Stops, Arnall Family Foundation, Frontier State Bank, Walters Power International, Dick Sias, Cherokee Nation, Legal Shield and First United Bank.

“New Frontier” $3,000 contributors for the JFK Dinner include ADG, Love Meyer Family Foundation, The City Sentinel, Arvest Bank, JonesPR, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, Bank of Oklahoma, Central Liquor, Enable Midstream Partners, Cory’s Audio Visual, Price Lang Consulting, Stillwater National Bank, and, at $2,500, St. Gregory’s University.

Additionally, many supporters contributed $1,000 each to sit at a table for “Friends of Rhonda and David Walters” and other honorees. said “The SFFLC’s adaptive sports, physical education classes, customized sporting events for individuals with disabilities, and youth sports programs would not be possible without the support garnered through this event. We are deeply grateful to all of our sponsors.”

Information about the event and past recipients of the award is available at

Timberlake said a few individual seats remained available at $500 and $300 each. For information through the close of business on Monday, January 23, contact: 405-840-1817.

Disclosure: Pat McGuigan is a former member of the board of directors at the Santa Fe Family Life Center, having served both as treasurer, and as vice president during Gov. Walters’ years as president of the board. Current board president Josef is Pat’s son.

Rhonda and David Walters
Rhonda and David Walters
Drew Edmondson
Drew Edmondson
Kari Watkins
Kari Watkins
Mike Turpen
Mike Turpen
Mick Cornett
Mayor Mick Cornett



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