BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
TAHLEQUAH – United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians members and the public are both invited to attend the Second Annual Keetoowah Strong event to be held July 13 on the UKB grounds.
“I consider it a day of fun where we can be united together,” said Richard Vann, event organizer. “Everybody’s here. We see more people here than at a family reunion sometimes. It’s not just for Keetoowahs, but it’s for the community, too. Everyone is invited.”
The event is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and managed by the UKB Housing Department’s Keetoowah Strong of Sound Mind, Body and Spirit Program.
Now in it’s second year, Vann said he is determined to see Keetoowah Strong grow even more.
“The first year went very well I thought. We had a lot of families show up, a lot of kids were interested. Everybody said they were telling everyone to come this year, so hopefully this event just grows and gets even bigger this year,” he said.
Activities will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a children’s fishing derby. Participants 14 and younger are invited to compete for first, second and third place prizes, while the first 50 participants will receive a free fishing pole courtesy of UKB Health and Human Services.
A free volleyball tournament will begin at 10 a.m. for the first ten teams. A horseshoe tournament for singles and doubles will take place at the same time. The event is same day registration.
New to this year’s lineup is a track and field event, which will also begin at 10 a.m. and invite children from 4 to 12-years-old to compete in several activities. First, second and third place prizes will be available.
The UKB Enrollment Office will also be distributing its annual school gift cards for exclusive 13 to 18-year-old Keetoowah students during the event. The gift cards will be worth $100 and good for use at any Walmart. Each child will also receive a free backpack.
Parents will need to bring the child’s Keetoowah membership card and proof of enrollment. Distribution will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the UKB Education Building located at 4547 S. Whitmore Lane in Tahlequah. For those who cannot attend, Tribal Enrollment will have cards available for pickup during regular business hours from July 15 to August 16.
The Henry Lee Doublehead Child Development Center’s Back to School Bash will also take place on July 13 beginning at 10 a.m. It was scheduled to coincide with Keetoowah Strong.
“We wanted to sponsor Keetoowah Strong and tie ourselves in because it’s a good time for parents that are already out with their families to come see us,” said Christie Kirk, HLDCDC director. “It’s really important to us to have this event and participate because we want to serve our members. We love when all of these events are going on that help the community and it’s a good way for us as a center to get to interact with the public.”
The HLDCDC will be issuing school gift cards for exclusive 4 to 12-year-old Keetoowah students. The cards are worth $125 for use at any Walmart and can be picked up at the HLDCDC building located at 18771 W. Keetoowah Circle.
Parents will need to bring the child’s Keetoowah membership card and proof of enrollment.
“The letter needs to be typed up on letterhead showing that child is enrolled or has a school schedule,” said Kirk. “If they don’t have that or can’t get that, because we’ve had that happen in the past, they can also bring the last report card of this last school year. They also need to bring their tribal membership card. We’ll have a list and we’ll cross check with that and make sure they’re on our list.”
The cards can be used for anything from school clothes to school supplies, according to Kirk, and each child that receives a gift card will also receive a free backpack.
The center will also be offering food, free haircuts courtesy of area hairdressers and free physicals for children 13 and up. Keetoowah children will specifically be served from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., with haircuts and physicals opening up to all members of the public after 12 p.m.
Vann encouraged all to come to the event and partake in the free activities.
“People who didn’t come last year, they missed out, but we hope to see them out this year,” he said. “We can all come together, have a good time, get fed and get your vouchers and backpacks through CDC if you have Keetoowah kids. Come and bring friends because everything is free.”
For additional information or questions about the event, contact Vann at 918-871-2800.