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Feature Stories

Champions of Health honors health ambassadors across Oklahoma

Champions of Health It's been 10 years since Oklahoma received a shocking grade in the State Board of Health's annual study evaluating the state on key health indicators. In response, the Champions of Health awards were launched with the idea that Oklahoma can do better. The program recognizes individuals and organizations that are doing good work and those creating programs that can be replicated in other communities to improve the health of even more Oklahomans.

Champions of Health celebrated 10 years of working to improve the health of Oklahoma residents with a fall gala that featured media icon Regis Philbin as the keynote speaker. LeAnne Taylor, of KOTV in Tulsa, and Alex Cameron, of KWTV in Oklahoma City, co-emceed the ceremony, which honored seven champions of health in a variety of categories.

Money raised by Champions of Health Gala sponsorships and ticket sales supports the Oklahoma Caring Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides basic health care services to Oklahoma children, with an emphasis on providing childhood immunizations at no charge.

The 2013 Champions of Health winners are:

Free Nurses Clinic of the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless

Winner of the Rodney Huey Memorial Champion of Oklahoma Health award, the Free Nurses Clinic offers health services and education to individuals who are homeless, uninsured, or underinsured. The nurses serve as health advocates and believe that restoring and managing an individual's physical health is the first step toward future stability and ending the crisis of homelessness. The Rodney Huey Memorial Champion of Oklahoma Health award is the highest honor of the Champions of Health program.

RSVP of Tulsa

Winner of the Champion of Senior Health award, RSVP of Tulsa has worked since 1971 to serve those age 55+ by matching their time, talents, and interests with volunteer opportunities. Studies show a significant connection between volunteering and good health. Volunteers live longer, function at a higher level, report lower rates of depression, and are less likely to have heart disease. In a survey, 82 percent said that their volunteer position is very important to their physical and mental health.

Fit Kids of Southwest Oklahoma Coalition

Winner of the Champion of Children's Health award, Fit Kids works to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity. Its purpose is to create a community where fitness and health are a way of life, not just a project or event. The coalition promotes the idea of a community-based process to improve community life. Its approach involves a wide range of local organizations that focus on educating children and building a healthier community.

Tulsa County Medical Society Foundation

Winner of the Champion of the Uninsured award, the Tulsa County Medical Society Foundation refocused its mission in 2010 to identify one significant issue and use all of its resources to address that issue: the need for more health resources to serve low-income residents of Tulsa County. The Foundation is establishing a network of volunteer physicians and community partners that provide specialty health care for patients referred by primary care clinics in Tulsa County.

Oklahoma Physicians Resource/Research Network

Winner of the Community Health Champion award, this nonprofit has created a learning community that uses a listserv, newsletter, website, meetings, and best practices feedback to physicians to improve care for patients. The network has completed more than 70 research projects, published 85 papers in peer-reviewed journals, and ensured that Oklahoma citizens across the state receive state-of-the-art health care.

Valir Health Corporate Wellness Program

Winner of the Corporate Health Champion award, Valir is comprised of 385 health care professionals, including therapists, nurses, and support staff. It offers a variety of resources dedicated to improving the health and wellness of employees and their families.

Also recognized as finalists: Dr. Fred Loper, Morton Comprehensive Health Services, Margaret Hudson Program, Global Gardens, the Tulsa Health Department Refugee Screening Program, Central Oklahoma Community Mental Health Center, and Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.

The Champions of Health awards program is presented by the Oklahoma Dental Association, the Oklahoma Hospital Association, the Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the Oklahoma State Medical Association, and the Office of the Governor Native American Liaison, in partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma.

The Champions of Health gala is held each fall. For more information on nominating a business or individual for a Champions of Health award, please visit