Press "Enter" to skip to content

John F. Kennedy Community Service Awards set for Sept. 14 in Oklahoma City

By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter —

OKLAHOMA CITY The 2021 John F. Kennedy Community Service Awards gala will honor Gene Rainbolt, Polly Nichols and Kris Steele on Tuesday, September 14. The event will be held at 6 p.m., at the Omni Hotel in Oklahoma City.

Proceeds from the awards dinner support the Santa Fe Family Life Center in its mission to provide recreation and athletic programs for children who are disadvantaged, or have physical or intellectual disabilities and mentally challenged children. 

“This year’s honorees have a history of putting service above self,” said James Timberlake, Executive Director and CEO of the Santa Fe Family Life Center.

“Each of them has worked to give voice and opportunity for underserved populations of our state,” Timberlake added. “These honorees don’t just talk the talk – they walk the walk of giving back each and every day.”

The John F. Kennedy award honors individuals making a significant contribution to Oklahoma, its communities and its people, while paying homage to the memory of John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States and a proud member of the Knights of Columbus.

At this year’s event, Gene Rainbolt will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work to improve access to health care and education and health care outcomes for all Oklahomans. He has served numerous civic and charitable organizations, including Stephenson Cancer Center, Calm Waters, the M.D. Anderson Foundation and the Oklahoma Bankers Association.

Also being honored that evening are community volunteer and philanthropist Polly Nichols and former legislator and current nonprofit CEO Kris Steele

Nichols has been involved with more than 20 nonprofit organizations. A survivor of the Oklahoma City bombing, she co-chaired the $29 million fundraising campaign to build the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. Nichols previously served as executive director for the Oklahoma City Foundation for Excellence, and she has served nonprofits including Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma, Junior League, the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits and Allied Arts. 

Steele is executive director of TEEM, the Employment and Education Ministry, a nonprofit dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty and incarceration in Oklahoma. A former legislator, having served as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Steele has led efforts to reform health care, criminal justice and human services. Steele currently serves as a trustee for Sarkeys Foundation. 

This year will mark the tenth time the John F. Kennedy Awards have been celebrated. 

Previous honorees include Vince Gill, Chickasaw Governor Bill Anoatubby, Mark Ruffin, Tricia Everest, Jenny Love Meyer, Frank and Cathy Keating, Brad and Kim Henry, Mick Cornett, Drew Edmondson, Toby Keith, Jack Mildren, Donna Nigh, George Nigh, Barry Switzer, Wayman Tisdale, Mike and Susan Turpen and David and Rhonda Walters. .  

The Santa Fe Family Life Center is owned and operated by the Columbus Corporation, a faith-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. The Columbus Corporation’s volunteer leadership seeks to provide individuals and organizations with access to sports and physical improvement opportunities that result in healthier, happier citizens. 

The SFFLC offers and promotes programs designed to empower disadvantaged youth and individuals with disabilities to achieve improved fitness and well-being.  In addition to its charitable programs, the Santa Fe Family Life Center is a full service health club offering tennis, basketball, fitness, swimming, group exercise, personal training and pickleball.

Ticket and sponsorship information for the John F. Kennedy Awards event is available by contacting James Timberlake or Kristi Birk Steinberg at 405-840-1817 or at [email protected]. For more information about the event and past recipients of the award, visit jfkaward.com

The 2021 John F. Kennedy Community Service Awards event on Sept. 14 will honor Gene Rainbolt with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work to improve access to health care and education and health care outcomes for all Oklahomans.
Also being honored during the John F. Kennedy Community Service Awards are community volunteer and philanthropist Polly Nichols and former legislator and current nonprofit CEO Kris Steele.
Proceeds from the John F. Kennedy Community Service Awards dinner support the Santa Fe Family Life Center in its mission to provide recreation and athletic programs for children who are disadvantaged, or have physical or intellectual disabilities and mentally challenged children. File photo