Seniors present time capsule as gift

By Chelsea Weeks, Editor-In-Chief

As OBU seniors prepare for graduation and life after Bison Hill, they decided to give a gift that will help them, and future students remember what life was like at OBU in 2019. The 2019 Oklahoma Baptist University Senior Class is donating a time capsule as their senior gift to the university.

OBU Senior Class President Casey House said they wanted to preserve a glimpse of what life on Bison Hill was like during their time spent on campus.

“This capsule is an opportunity to reflect on the life in the world today and at OBU,” House said. “It’s also an opportunity to consider the future, what we want to become in the 40 years and how we want the world to change.”

The OBU Class of 2019 Time Capsule is a stainless-steel container that has the ability to last for 200 years, but House said they will only be waiting 50 to years to open it.

The time capsule will be dug up and opened Saturday, April 26, 2059. Occasional reminders will be sent out to prevent the class from forgetting about the capsule.

The time capsule was buried Friday, April 26, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. in the southeast flowerbed by the fountain in the oval. There will be a plaque at the burial site with information regarding the opening ceremony.

“For preserving a glimpse of what life was like today, we are trying to include a variety of things in the capsule, from the trivial to the sublime,” House said. “[Examples include] A picture of you and your friends with signatures on the back of the picture, a collection of the best tweets of President Whitlock signed by him, a CAB show program, a golf ball with St. Gregory’s University insignia, a metal nail from the new bison sculpture, a record of traditions and memories… the list goes on.”

Senior theatre major McKenzie Reece donated two envelopes; one with pictures of her and eight of her best friends and the other is full of quotes that were said throughout their four years on Bison Hill.

“I thought that pictures and quotes would show perspective of how far we all have come from our time at OBU in 50 years,” Reece said. “I think that it will be sweet to reminisce in 50 years and remember all of the good times and hard times. I believe that the friendships I have made here will last the rest of my life and I could not be more grateful!”

Senior health and human performance major Savannah Payne donated two “day in the life” papers, one was written about 2019 and the other about her predictions for 2059. She also donated a letter to her 62-year-old self from the perspective of her 22-year-old self and photos of spots around campus and her friends.

“I think that opening the time capsule in 40 years and seeing memories from my college years will be so meaningful,” she said.

Payne said she donated to the time capsule because she wanted to leave a piece of her life at OBU in 2019 behind for future students and alumni to see.

“I think the time capsule will serve to unite the Class of 2019 in its creation and again when we open it in 2059,” Payne said. “I think that opening the time capsule in 2059 will be an event that current students will be interested to attend as well and make them reflect on their own experiences at OBU and look forward to leaving their own legacy behind.”

Remembering tragedy: OKC bombing memories still strong 24 years later

By Chelsea Weeks and Loren Rhoades, Editor-In-Chief and Assistant Features Editor

“I was actually walking out to come to work that morning and heard it. You could hear it from that far away.”

– Bobby Cox, baseball coach and assistant professor of KAL

April 19, a day of sorrow and remembrance for many Oklahomans. On that date 24 years ago, ex-army soldier Timothy McVeigh parked a Ryder rental truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The truck contained a fertilizer bomb that after being detonated led to the death of 168 people and the injury of over 650 others.

Until September 11, 2001, McVeigh’s act of violence and terrorism was the deadliest attack to ever occur in the United States.

For most students on OBU’s campus, the April 19th bombing is an event that occurred before their birth, but for some OBU faculty and staff members, it is a day they will always remember.

“I was actually walking out to come to work that morning and heard it,” baseball coach and assistant professor of KALS, Bobby Cox said. “You could hear it from that far away.”

Cox said the baseball team was supposed to compete against Oklahoma City the next day but canceled the game due to the tragedy. The team rescheduled the game for a few days later and witnessed the wreckage on their way there.

“So, you’re driving across town and you could see it was still smoking at the time,” Cox said. “The interstate was raised at that point so you could see down in there and it was just like total silence.”

Different professors on campus said it was a time filled with questions for Oklahomans as well as for students on Bison Hill.

“If I had to describe it, it was just a lot of confusion,” HHP professor Dr. Norris Russell said. “There was a lot of ‘why?’ and ‘what’s the deal?’ It took a while for the whole situation to finally unravel.”

Although the event caused a large amount of heartache, it also brought people closer together. People from all over the U.S. were heading toward OKC to see how they could help in some way.

Professor of history Dr. Carol Humphrey said there were also OBU students with the desire to aid those who were affected by the bombing.

“There were a lot of students at the time who weren’t from Oklahoma, so they were shocked by it, but they also wanted to see if there was a way to help out,” Humphrey said. “So, I think in some ways it did bring people together in ways that had not been true before.”

The Murrah Building bombing changed the lives of so many forever. In response to the domestic terrorist act, U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the Oklahoma City National Memorial Act of 1997, which established the site as a National Memorial. A task force of over 350 people was assigned by Oklahoma City mayor Ron Norick to memorialize those who were lost in the attack.

The Oklahoma City National Memorial was formally dedicated April 19, 2000, five years after the bombing. The Museum was dedicated a year later February 19, 2001. The mission statement of the Memorial was to “remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever.”

The Outdoor Symbolic Memorial consists of a multitude of elements to honors those who were lost.

Twin bronze gates frame the entrances to the memorial. 9:01 is found in the eastern gate and represents the last moments of peace. 9:03 is found on the western gate and represents the first moments of recovery.

In between these two gates lie the Reflecting Pool, a thin layer of water running over black granite. Those who peer into the Reflecting pool are supposed to see “a face of a person changed by domestic terrorism.”

168 empty chairs made from bronze, glass and stone can be found south of the Reflecting Pool. Etched in each chair is the name of a lost father, mother, brother, sister – a family member, a victim of hatred. The chairs were designed to represent an empty chair at the dinner table of a victim’s family.

In the southwest corner, the only remnants of the Murray Building have been transformed into the Survival Wall. Granite salvaged from the Murray Building has been inscribed with the names of over 800 survivors.

The 112-year-old American Elm that used to offer shade to vehicles, was damaged from the blast. Evidence of the attack was found in the branches and bark of the old tree. Many thought it would be lost, but a year later it began to bud and continue to grow. Its determination to survive mirrors the determination of those impacted by the attack.

On the anniversary of the attack, seeds from the Survivor Tree are sent across the country to be planted. For the 22nd anniversary in 2017, a Survivor Tree seed was planted right here on Bison Hill and can be found south of Raley Chapel.

The 33,000 square foot Memorial Museum strives to tell the story of the horrific domestic attack and the hope that followed after.

The cost is $15 for adults, $12 for students and free for children under fi ve. People from all over the country come to visit the site and get involved.

The 16th Annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon will take place Sunday, April 28, 2019. There will be a variety of races available for all individuals including a full and half marathon, a 5k, a kids marathon and a relay marathon. For more information about the race or to sign

OBU to host annual Symphonic Winds, Bison Jazz Orchestra concert March 11

By Chelsea Weeks, Editor-In-Chief

As the spring semester brings deadlines and due dates, to also brings a variety of beneficial events.

Oklahoma Baptist University’s College of Fine Arts hosted the annual Symphonic Winds and Bison Jazz Concert Monday, March 11 at 7:30 in Potter Auditorium in Raley Chapel.

The concert is free to attend and will include four musical pieces from the Bison Jazz Orchestra, several pieces from the Symphonic Winds Ensemble and multiple individual solos.

“My favorite aspect of the concert is seeing all of our band students in one place,” assistant professor of instrumental music Justin Pierce said.

Pierce said they have been hosting a Jazz orchestra and Symphonic Winds combined concert for the past five years.

“We have a jazz band and symphonic winds ensemble here at OBU and both of them perform about 2-3 times per semester on campus,” he said.

Directed by Pierce, the Bison Jazz Orchestra consists of a 20-piece ensemble and performs music ranging from swing era to contemporary pieces.

They perform on Bison Hill at the biannual Night of Jazz and many other campus events. In 2018, the BJO traveled to Russia to tour the country performing, which included the House of Culture in St. Petersburg.

Directed by assistant professor of music and director of band Dr. Teresa Purcell, the Symphonic Winds Ensemble consists of over 20 musicians.

They have played on Bison Hill for a variety of events and in churches in the surrounding communities and over 10 states across the country.

Alex Benito a junior instrumental performance major plays the alto saxophone in the Bison Jazz Orchestra and the Symphonic Winds Ensemble said he looks forward to the upcoming concert.

“This concert is exciting to me because we’ll be playing some very unique and challenging pieces of music,” Bento said. “One of my favorite aspects of being in a music ensemble is the experience of collaborating with other great musicians to overcome the various challenges each piece of music presents.”

Pierce said the bands have been preparing for the concert since the beginning of the spring semester.

“In this case, we’ve put in many rehearsals over several weeks to prepare for this upcoming concert, so I’m excited to share our work this upcoming Monday!” Benito said. “Please don’t miss what will surely be a great musical experience and invite your family and friends to enjoy the concert with you.”

The concert is free and open to the public.

“We’d like everybody to know that there will be a variety of music in this concert, so there will definitely be something for everyone,” Pierce said. “We’d love to see everyone there.”

Jonathan Stewart wins awards for swimming achievement

By Chelsea Weeks, News Editor

Jonathan Stewart, a senior business management major with an emphasis in computer information, received the Pat and Tony Jablonsky Award and the NCAA Academic All-Ameri-can for the 2017-2018 school year.

The Pat and Tony Jablonsky Award is given by the business honors society, Delta Mu Delta, to a business student each year. Stewart was inducted into Delta Mu Delta last spring and has a 4.0 GPA.

The NCAA Academic All-American Award is a prestigious honor that only 18 students nationwide receive.

In order to be considered, athletes must have a 3.50 GPA and make a significant contribution to their team.

Athletes who competed in lacrosse, tennis, hockey, fencing, men’s volleyball, rifle, golf, skiing, water polo, wrestling, gymnastics and swim were grouped together in the at-large category.

“I don’t seek awards, that’s not what I do,” Stewart said. “I just try to do my best in everything I do. So, it’s nice to get awards for your hard work, but that’s not what I started out for. What I shoot for is to have the biggest impact on campus as well as on my team to try and better our team.”

Jacob Usry, a junior journalism and mass communications major, has been swimming with Stewart for three years.

Usry said Stewart is not only a great guy to be around, but also a positive influence when others are not.

“At meets he’s always very pushing in a positive way, like you could do better and stuff like that, but very kind,” Usry said. “He’s a very interesting person to be around and very smart.”

Dr. Sam Freas, physical education, health and human performance professor and swim coach, said Stewart is an exceptional student who makes OBU proud and deserves any awards he receives.

Stewart started swimming at the YMCA in his hometown when he was 14 years old.

“I’m very grateful for my parents,” Stewart said. “Had it not been for them, there’s no way I would have been as successful as I have been throughout my college career. They gave me a great upbringing.”

Stewart has five sisters and eight brothers. He is the ninth child out of 13.

“I credit my competitiveness to my older brothers because they push me,” Stewart said. “Growing up in a big family when you’re on the younger end of things, you always want to be better.”

Stewart is taking 16 credit hours, has swim practice for at least 20 hours a week, is president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, works two jobs and owns his own business as a web developer, designing websites for private clients.

“It’s a balancing act,” Stewart said. “You have to be really scheduled, very disciplined, make sure you get everything done in advance so when things come up like they always do, you have a little bit of a cushion to work with.”

The advice that Stewart would give is to be involved in everything you can. He said going to athletic events and campus activities make for a great overall experience.

“You’re only here for four years, so enjoy it as much as you can,” Stewart said. “Memories last forever, so have the greatest experience you can.”

Historical society hosts community event

By Chelsea Weeks, News Editor

Students and Shawnee residents are invited to fly high and learn about the history of the community they live in.

Saturday, Oct. 6, Pottawatomie County Historical Society will host the third annual Planes, Trains and Automobiles event from 11:00 a.m. thru 7:00 p.m. at the Santa Fe Depot in downtown Shawnee.

“This event has something for everyone in the family to enjoy,” event coordinator Theresa Burnett said. “The day will be bursting with lots to see and experience that will not only be entertaining but educational. It is a great opportunity to explore the Santa Fe Depot and see what is going on with the construction of the new museum.”

There is no cost to enter and all entertainment events are free.

A variety of food vendors will be present which include Healthy Hippo, a Greek food truck, Quick Bites, Kono Ice of Pottawatomie and a dessert truck.

“It has many sponsors from the community that allows activities such as kiddie train ride, live pony carousel, butter making, corn husk doll craft, one-room schoolhouse reenactment, gunfighters, music, dancing and a theatrical show,” Burnett said. “There will be a working chuck wagon, a blacksmith, fur trader and other exciting living history demonstrations.”

Dr. Carol Humphrey, an OBU professor of history, is a member of the Pottawatomie County Historical Society and volunteered at last year’s event.

Humphrey said Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a great way to bring the people of Shawnee together and not only have fun but to also learn more about the community they live in.

“This event provides the community with a family fun day that has hands-on activities, entertainment as well as historical demonstrations and performances with little to no cost,” Burnett said.

Emily Shaw, a senior interdisciplinary major, volunteered at last year’s event and led tours through the Beard cabin while wearing a typical pioneer dress.

“I love sharing history with people and making them excited about it as well,” Shaw said. “I was only given a little information about the Beard cabin at first, but as people started to ask questions I was able to learn more and then do better at my job. It was also fun to see little girls get excited about our costumes and ask if that’s what people really used to wear.”

Visiting writer seminars next week with Mark Jarman

By Chelsea Weeks, News Editor

Oklahoma Baptist University hosts the fourth annual Visiting Writer Seminars with Mark Jarman next Thursday, September 27th and Friday, September 28th.
Mark Jarman will conduct a poetry reading Thursday, September 27th at 7:00p.m. in the Tulsa Royalties Auditorium in Bailey Business Center.
Jarman is also the keynote speaker for the 2018 Southwest Conference on Christianity & Literature and will be giving the keynote address Friday, September 28th, at 7:15 in GC 219-220.
“We do the Visiting Writers Seminar every year and the conference we happen to be doing this year,” Crouch-Mathis Professor of Literature Dr. Benjamin Myers said. “We’re combining them to get the most out of both, but they don’t normally go together.”
The Southwest Conference is an annual event that takes place in a different regional location every year; this year OBU is hosting the Southwest Conference here on Bison Hill. The theme for this year’s conference is “Gathering in the Strange: Literary Vision in a Disenchanted World.”
“The conference is looking at the ways that enchantment, or the idea of there being magical or transcendent, or strange, in our experience and in literature might be important and valuable in a world that has largely eschewed the supernatural in a secular age that sees the world as purely material,” associate professor of English, Dr. Brent Newsom said.
In 2013, Myers and Newsom approached the OBU advancement office with the idea of creating a seminar that invited renown writers to OBU.
They had the first Visiting Writers Seminar in the spring of 2016.
“We try to alternate a poet and a prose writer because within our creative writing major we offer both of those specializations of poetry and fiction,” Newsom said. “Last year we had novelist Gina Ochsne, this year we’re having a poet, Mark Jarman.”
Mark Jarman’s published collections of poetry include ‘Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems,’ ‘Epistles,’ ‘To the Green Man’ and ‘Unholy Sonnets,’ to name a few.
He received the Joseph Henry Jackson Award, the Balcones Poetry Prize for “Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems,” the 1998 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for “Questions for Ecclesiastes” and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
“Mark Jarman is a contemporary poet who takes faith very seriously and over the course of his career he’s been a leader in that direction,” Myers said. “In some of his early work, he took on issues of faith in a complicated and artistically sophisticated way. He opened up possibilities for other writers.”
Mark Jarman was a leader in the poetic movement known as New Formalism which brought back traditional techniques within poetry like rhyme and meter.
“It was kind of edgy and exciting when he was first doing this in the 80’s,” Myers said. “To write a sonnet was kind of punk rock. He’s an important figure in the recent history of American poetry.”
Newsom said his poetry often grapples with faith and doubt and believes that the OBU community and all students can relate to.
“One thing poetry does is help us see the everyday in a new light,” Newsom said. “Poets use the imagination to open up the world of our own experience. Students don’t have to be writers themselves, or be familiar with poetry, to find a poetry reading meaningful, and I hope engaging.”
Myers said bringing writers to campus builds intellectual excitement and energy that you can’t receive from watching the authors YouTube video or buying their book.
“We have writers to campus to help our student understand that literature isn’t just a thing that happened a long time ago,” Myers said. “It’s a thing still happening today, and we can have the excitement and pleasure of watching it before our eyes.”
These events are free for all OBU students, staff and faculty. The funds available to make this event happen are raised through donations. The planning process has already begun for the 2019 Visiting Writer Seminars.

RAWC hosts first lunch ‘n’ learn of the semester

By Chelsea Weeks, News Editor

As the number of deadlines increase and the pressures of school rise, it’s easy for students to become overwhelmed by the stressors of college life.

Monday, September 17, the RAWC will be hosting the first Lunch ‘N’ Learn of the semester at 12:00 p.m. in the RAWC event room. Oklahoma Baptist University’s Marriage and Family Therapy department will be presenting “How College influences Mental Health.”

“There’s such an increase in mental awareness and mental health,” wellness coordinator,
Lindsay Mitchell said. “There’s been more attempted suicides in the news and so it’s a
super sensitive subject, but it needs to be talked about.”

When choosing the topic for the Lunch ‘N’ Learns, Mitchell views the potential topics to be covered from a college students’ perspective.

“I try to be creative and cover different aspects of wellness,” Mitchell said. “Whether
it’s mental wellness or physical wellness. Just because we’re a gym doesn’t mean it’s just
going to be about physical because we need to focus on our mental health too.”

Mitchell said she chose to cover mental health for the first Lunch ‘N’ Learn of the semester because she understands how transitioning back into school can be stressful.

“We thought starting off when school gets overwhelming with homework,” Mitchell said. “It makes sense to have this kind of topic. I’m just trying to help you guys out.”

Lunch will be grilled chicken sandwiches provided by Boomerang. Spaces are limited so contact to RSVP or request more information. The next Lunch ‘N’ Learn will be Monday, November 5 at 12:00 p.m. with the Career and Development Center presenting over professionalism.

OBU’s Recent Renovations

By Chelsea Weeks, News Editor

While students were away for the summer, several buildings on Bison Hill received a facelift.

From the end of May to the beginning of September, Lingo Construction moved the mailroom to the south side of the GC, built the Dick and Sue Rader Office of Student Life and the Women of Vision Center for Spiritual Life.

“The family of Dick and Sue Rader made a significant donation to make this renovation happen and bring all of Student and Spiritual Life together to the heart of the campus to improve access for students and increase interaction with students,” marketing communications director, Kenny Day said.

The funds for this project were also made possible by a gift from the Women of Vision.

“This project was voted on by the Women of Vision giving circle during their annual meeting in fall 2017,” Day said. “They selected this as their annual project and donated more than $75,000 to make it possible.”

One of the challenges of the project was the limited timeline that Lingo Construction had to complete everything, however, they were able to finish everything on time.

Relocating the mailroom was a logistical move to create space for the new Student Development and Spiritual Life Center.

Day said this move should increase the attendance for events like Noonday and allow students with easier access to the staff of Student Development and Spiritual Life.

“Spiritual Life was moved to the GC from Montgomery Hall to make its services more available to students and to position Spiritual Life in the heart of campus,” Day said. “Student Development moved downstairs so that, like Spiritual Life, it could be located on the first floor of the GC where students come and go daily.”

Also this summer, Agee underwent a variety of changes including new vinyl plank flooring throughout the building, new paint on all walls, cleaned and services air conditioners, and a new location for the check-in desk which opened up the second floor lobby.

“Agee has been and always will be a chill atmosphere for guys to hangout and have a good time,” junior Ministry major, Jordan Sheehy said. “Now Agee doesn’t have that gross old vibe from people that don’t live there. I think it will bring more people in and bring more life to the building.”
Matt Hampton, a junior management major, lived in Agee last year before the renovations were completed and he said the building is nicer looking.

“The study rooms and basement look much nicer,” Hampton said. “Also the carpet that was there before had a lot of junk and was probably pretty unsanitary.”

Dr. Susan DeWoody Named OBU’s VPAA

By Chelsea Weeks, News Editor
Oklahoma Baptist University announced Dr. Susan DeWoody as the vice president of academic affairs. DeWoody is from a small 2A football town on the east side of the sooner state called Arkoma, Oklahoma. DeWoody and her brother are first-generation college graduates in her family to earn a bachelor degree.
“It’s a little crazy,” DeWoody said. “I have these really great parents who always had such a belief in my brother and me.”
DeWoody received her Bachelor of Science in education from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Arkansas and received her Master of Science in college student personnel services from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
“I always thought higher ed was great, but I had never really considered it would be a
career option for me,” DeWoody said. “I had someone speak into my life and he said he thought I should give it a shot.”
DeWoody said she loves learning and enjoys the academic environment and asked
herself why wouldn’t she pursue a career in higher education
“Being a female in higher education, especially Christian higher education, I tend to be a minority,” DeWoody said. “The idea that we should take every opportunity that is given to us. God just blew that door wide open for me and gave me an opportunity to get my doctorate at Dallas Baptist University.”
After receiving her Doctor of Education in educational leadership, DeWoody noticed that OBU had an opening.
In May of 2017, DeWoody was hired as the dean of the Graduate college and became integrated in the OBU community.
“They were looking for someone who had experience working with graduate programs, and I had that,” DeWoody said. “I always worked with enrollment and marketing, as well as the academic leadership side.”
Only a few months later, while at a graduate academic conference on New Orleans, DeWoody received a phone call from Dr. Whitlock asking her to serve as the interim VP.
She accepted the position as the interim but advised him that she would not be interested in filling the vacancy.
“I found myself bouncing out of bed really excited to come to work,” DeWoody said. “I’m a high energy person anyway, but I could feel this difference in the work I was doing. I was really enjoying it. It was a fun challenge every day, even though the work was hard and there was much work to be done, I still found myself excited about it.”
Since DeWoody was serving as the interim and had told everyone she wasn’t interested in the position, she agreed to serve on the search committee. After a couple of meetings, DeWoody felt called to apply.
“I continued to be encouraged by people on campus whom I respect,” DeWoody said. “I told the chair that I needed to resign from the committee because I was going to apply for the position.”
After resigning from the search committee, DeWoody threw her name into the ring of potential candidates. DeWoody went through the same process that every other external candidate went through, which included a phone interview, campus visits, countless meetings, and in-person interviews.
“I went through everything that the external candidates had to go through and I think I’m better for that,” DeWoody said. “I think it tells me that the Lord really is in this,” she said. “Going through that process, although it was long and sometimes I was ready for it
to just be over, I’m relieved that we went through that process because I think it solidified the decision on both sides.”
Senior Vice President for Advancement and University Relations, Will Smallwood, said she went through the external application process in order to make sure that the committee didn’t diminish her credibility or give her an unfair advantage over other candidates.
“We really wanted to be guided to the person that God wanted to be in this role,” Smallwood said. “We believe very seriously that God calls people and we wanted to make sure that our process was followed in such a way that people wouldn’t question her credibility.”
The committee was chaired by Dr. Smallwood and consisted of Dr. Karen Longest, Dr. Randy Ridenour, Dr. Heath Thomas, Dr. Linda McElroy, Dr. Gale Jones and Robert Davenport.
“OBU was looking for a vice president for academic affairs that would be an advocate for the Christian liberal arts tradition and a distinctively Baptist education,” Smallwood said.
Smallwood said he could not be more thrilled to have DeWoody serving as the VPAA.
“She brings a wealth of knowledge, a diversity of experience, and a very winsome attitude,” Smallwood said. “What excited me is that she checks all the boxes when it came to the job description. She has the aspects that we wanted and were looking for as a search committee.”
DeWoody said she finds great joy in working with college students, being a part of divisional meetings, and knowing what’s going on across Bison Hill.
“Being in this role has given me the opportunity to serve more directly with the cabinet level leadership at the institution and again see a much broader perspective and vision of the institution,” DeWoody said. “My intent is still the same which is to be out and supporting everyone in the community.”
DeWoody remains the acting dean of the graduate college, works with the athletic department, leads academic faculty and programs, oversees institutional effectiveness and assessment, and works with the academic deans.
“She’s already impacting OBU through her decision making and through her leadership,” Smallwood said

United Way hosts “The Voice” kickoff event

By Chelsea Weeks, News Editor  (Courtesy photo/Amanda Johnson)

For those searching for their 15 minutes of fame, the opportunity is coming this August. Saturday, August 25, United Way is hosting the annual campaign kickoff at the Heart of Oklahoma Expo Center.

For the first time ever, they are having a Fiesta themed dinner with street tacos and live music.

“Every year in the fall, United Way kicks off our campaign,” executive director Lindsey Dyer said.

“Our campaign runs September to November, which means during that time period we go into companies, and into different plants and we ask individuals to donate.”

Individual tickets for the kickoff will be $30 and a table of eight will be $350 which will include sponsorship.

In order to raise awareness of the campaign and include the community, United Way is hosting the second annual “The Voice” themed campaign.

From August 1st through August 15th, any individual, or group of people, are invited to submit a video of them singing a full song.

United Way will then pick the top four contestants and they will battle it out at the kickoff event on August 25th.

That night, people will vote for their favorite contestant and the winner will be crowned; each vote will cost $1.

“We would like for any individual to let us know which nonprofit our of our partnered agencies they are supporting and why they choose that particular nonprofit to represent,” Dyer said.

Although still in the planning stages, “The Voice” campaign open to the public and is intended to be a fun, community event.

“We’re really excited about the event and just want to welcome anybody who wants to attend,” Dyer said.

Anyone interested can upload their video to Dropbox or YouTube and email the link to or

“We highly suggest anyone that’s interested to follow our Facebook page because we’ll be posting updates there as we get closer to that time,” community relations coordinator Amanda Johnson said.

United Way is a worldwide nonprofit organization that has had a chapter in Shawnee Oklahoma for over 30 years.

United Way helps raise funds for other nonprofit organizations, coordinate volunteer efforts and advocate for the community.

“We raise funds for nonprofits in our community, throughout Pottawatomie county,” Dyer said. “This year we have partnered with 21 different nonprofits throughout Pottawatomie county in order to help them provide their services on a daily basis. We don’t actually offer any individual services, personally as United Way, we just support other agencies that provide services.”

The mission of United Way is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of the community.

“United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every individual in our community,” Dyer said.

Through this event, Dyer said she believes community awareness will increase and they will be able to raise funds to help support their nonprofits better.

“It’s bringing another community event, another excuse for people within the community to come together,” Johnson said.

Emily Day, last year’s fourth-place contestant, described her experiences with ‘The Voice’ campaign as humbling.

“It is an amazing opportunity to not only share your gifts and talents but meet other in the community with common passions,” Day said. “And, most importantly, raising money for the non-profit organizations of our town.”