Champions of Youth logo

(Editor’s Note: The following is the second in a series of funded content pieces commissioned by a donor who supports both NonDoc and the Boys & Girls Club of Oklahoma County.)

From humble beginnings as a picnic 20 years ago to raising well over $320,000 in 2015, the Boys & Girls Club of Oklahoma County’s annual fundraiser has staying power.

Ana Marie Lopez, 2016 Youth of the Year for Boys & Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County
Ana Marie Lopez, 2016 Youth of the Year for Boys & Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County

The nonprofit offers daily programs for local youth to “… sustain meaningful relationships with others, develop a positive self-image, participate in the democratic process, engage in civil service and respect their own and other’s cultural identities.”

To achieve these goals, the program needs funding. That’s why BGC of Oklahoma County has focused so much effort into its annual fundraising event, the Champions of Youth Celebration.

NonDoc caught up with the organization’s president and CEO, Jane Sutter, to discuss the event’s history and honorees. The following questions were submitted via email, and the answers have been lightly edited for style.

So, what’s going to happen at this event? What attendees can expect?

Jane Sutter, president and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County
Jane Sutter, president and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County

The 2016 Boys & Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County Champions of Youth Celebration is intended to inspire participants to imagine a better future for the youth of our community. Attendees will be inspired by Boys & Girls Clubs members who will be performing with dance and song during the cocktail hour, then later by adults and organizations who will be honored for their contributions to youth.

In addition to the beautiful atmosphere of Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club, (attendees) will enjoy a delicious dinner and have the option to bid on five exclusive trip packages and a one-of-a-kind art piece created by Boys & Girls Clubs members. Another highlight of the evening will be hearing from the 2016 Youth of the Year Ana Marie Lopez, who will share an inspirational story about challenges she has overcome with the support of the Club.

What’s the history behind this fundraiser?

The event has evolved from a picnic in Memorial Park with a handful of supporters to last year’s gala at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, which made $325,000 for the organization.

This year’s theme is “Imagine,” and the event has been designed with more focus on program and purpose. The move to Oklahoma City Country Club and from a Saturday night to a Thursday night were designed to provide more substance to the evening. The theme is designed to encourage participants to imagine a better future through the impact of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County. Examples of the difference the club experience has made for hundreds of youth will help inspire.

To reach 20 years, the event must be doing something right. To what do you credit the longevity and success of Champions of Youth?

Our Champions of Youth event has evolved over the years, but the focus has always been on the importance of youth, and the Boys & Girls Clubs’ role in giving them opportunities. This year will be a very classy event with a whimsical atmosphere of fun as several of our club members will be performing.

What does it mean to be a “Champion of Youth”? How does one earn that distinction?

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County Champions of Youth are individuals, businesses and organizations who have somehow improved the lives of  youth in our community. Some of them have been involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs directly, but not all. We value and recognize all who care about creating a better future for our kids.

I see that Rick Nagel, OU Children’s Physicians and Chris Brewster will all be honored at your event. What have each done to earn such recognition?

Rick Nagel and his wife, Kandi
Rick Nagel and his wife, Kandi

Rick Nagel will be receiving the first Boys & Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Rick’s involvement with the Boys & Girls Clubs movement spans back to his own youth when he was a runner-up for national Boys & Girls Clubs of America Youth of the Year. He was a founding member of our organization in 1995 and still serves loyally, not just at the local level, but also in state and national Boys & Girls Clubs positions.

OU Children’s Physicians have been leaders in research and advancement for children in our community and worldwide and are being recognized as the Corporate Champion of Youth for the impact they are making on children’s health.

Chris Brewster, superintendent of Santa Fe South Charter Schools, is being recognized as our first Education Champion of Youth for his visionary and impactful work on behalf of children in south Oklahoma City.

I’ve heard an anecdote about a donor who would send coins taped to a piece of paper every month as a donation. Have you heard about that?


A donation of $83.33 provides funds for a club member for a month. By comparison, most afterschool programs charge $200 per month.

For a donation of $1,000, a club member’s involvement will be supported for one year.

We had a donor who faithfully sent a $2 or $3 money order to the Club every month for a couple of years. A group of our club members sang Christmas Carols at the nursing home where she lived during the 2014 holiday season as a way to thank her for her faithfulness. We have not heard from her in recent months and believe she must have moved onto her heavenly home where her generosity will, no doubt, be rewarded, like the widow in the Bible recognized by Christ for giving her last coin.


Tickets and more information

The Boys & Girls Club of Oklahoma County will host its annual Champions of Youth Celebration Thursday, March 3, at Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club. Ticket prices are tiered and range from $200 for individual tickets to $15,000 for corporate sponsorships. For more information, visit


Jessica Caldwell was named Boys & Girls Club of Oklahoma County "Youth of the Year" in 2013. (Photo provided)

Boys & Girls Club helped OU student see a bright future” by NonDoc Staff