Every year at its annual banquet, the South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce recognizes the people who make the Chamber successful, from those who network at every ribbon cutting to others who work countless hours behind the scenes.
The Chamber also offers a special award that would make every Oklahoman proud – the Native Son/Daughter award, which has been given to well-known musicians, athletes, chefs and political figures.
The Volunteer of the Year, Ambassador of the Year and Citizen of the Year awards are “recognition for what people do for the business community,” said Elaine Lyons, Chamber president.
The Volunteer of the Year award is important because “people outside of the Chamber don’t see what volunteers are doing for the community to move it forward and uplift business in general,” Lyons said.
A person who frequently attends ribbon-cuttings and groundbreakings is an ideal candidate for the Ambassador of the Year award.
The Citizen of the Year acknowledges a “long-term commitment to the community and Chamber,” Lyons said.
The excitement of the banquet hits another level when the Native Son/Daughter Award is given to a well-known person with Oklahoma ties who is acknowledged for his/her achievements.
When winners find out they’re going to receive the award “they all have a different reaction,” Lyons said. “They’re very appreciative and very genuine.”
For example, renowned chef Rick Bayless was touched by the award because his parents once had a restaurant in South Oklahoma City.
Native Award winners will mingle with members before and after the banquet in a relaxed setting.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Lyons said. “You get to enjoy them in a different atmosphere. They’re back home.”
Past winners have included:
- Musicians Vince Gill, Toby Keith and B.J. Thomas
- Athletes Steve Largent and Bobby Murcer
- Chef Rick Bayless
- Olympic Gold Medalist J.W. Mashburn
- Former U.S. House Speaker Carl Albert
- Astronauts Shannon Lucid and John Harrington