Friday, April 19, 2013

Million-dollar fundraiser a kids’ affair

Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club members played the key role in William Booth Society Dinner
The Boys & Girls Club Chorus
I almost felt as if I were in a Boys & Girls Club. I saw some of my usual club buddies but instead of hearing shouts of "Take my picture Miss Sallie!" when I saw them, they stood quietly wearing their party manners, coats, ties, and dresses. I can't take one iota of credit for that, but it still made me proud. The 20th Annual William Booth Society Dinner, The Tulsa Area Command’s major fundraiser, featured Boys & Girls Club members from all six metro Tulsa clubs.

Mason Pritzlaff, BA Club
The first clue to the kid-themed evening was a beautiful display of Boys & Girls Club art and photography which guests viewed as they walked to the lobby of the Tulsa Convention Center. Members from the clubs greeted guests and answered questions about their artwork, but that was only the start. At 7 p.m. when the doors opened to the ballroom for dinner, guests walked through a gauntlet formed by the winners of the Youth of the Year contest. I walked through the gauntlet several times because it was just so much fun. When guests found their tables, the first thing they noticed was the unique centerpieces, designed by Mason Pritzlaff, a nine-year-old member of the Broken Arrow Boys & Girls Club.

When event co-chair Charlotte Edmundson was researching options for the event last summer, she toured all six of the clubs and landed on the idea of a kid-centered event. At the start of the dinner, a Boys & Girls Club Chorus sang “God Bless America” and “The National Anthem” before Boy Scout Troop 995 from the Broken Arrow Boys & Girls Club led the Color Guard.

Nakylyn Walters, W. Mabee
West Mabee club member Nakylan Walters gave the welcome speech because Charlotte had met him when he took the stage at a club dinner she attended. “After all the adults and youths spoke and we were getting ready to leave, Nakylan unexpectedly asked to speak and took the stage to say what the club meant to him. He was the youngest one to speak at that dinner, and  I knew then that he was the one to give the welcome because I wanted to give him the biggest stage we had,” Charlotte said.

Youth of the Year Tulsa Anthony Wilson from the West Mabee Boys & Girls Club gave a speech in front of the crowd of almost 800 guests and guest speaker Bob Costas. How’s that for pressure on a 17-year-old? Anthony's come a long way since I first interviewed him and he seemed incredibly shy.
Anthony Wilson

But he was almost as poised as State Senator Jabar Shumate, who grew up in the North Mabee Boys & Girls Club and preceded Anthony with his testimonial. The fundraiser grossed $1,075,849. Much of the funding will go to help members of the Boys & Girls Club in addition to others who need it most. For a wonderful slide show of the event created by Tulsa World photographer Cory Young, click here. And don't miss the photo of Nakylan dressed up in his coat and tie! -Sallie

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