By ROB W. ANDERSON
Tahlequah City Hospital will host its Eighth Annual Hearts of Gold Gala fundraiser Saturday, Feb. 16, to help cover the cost of caring for uninsured patients, provide scholarships to college students pursuing health care careers, and meet technology needs.
The Tahlequah Hospital Foundation event, which was hosted by Pawhuska resident and nationally-acclaimed author and food writer Ree Drummond in 2012, will feature three special guests this year: Tulsa Channel 2 News Anchor Russ McCaskey, former University of Oklahoma quarterback and current Tulsa Sports Animal radio broadcaster Steve Davis, and Oklahoma country music artist Thomas Martinez.
McCaskey co-anchors the evening news broadcasts for the Tulsa NBC television station and has covered historical events in the state, from significant weather-related stories to the Oklahoma City bombing. He also produced, anchored and reported in an award-winning documentary about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. The day NATO forces initiated a bombing assault in Kosovo to seed the removal of Serbian forces and restore peace, McCaskey traveled with a national guard unit on a C-17 to report on the situation. He was named “Best News Anchor” by the Associated Press in 2011 and has won eight Emmy awards, as well as a number Society of Professional Journalism and Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters awards.
Davis, who was born in Sallisaw, was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player of the 1976 Orange Bowl as the OU quarterback when the Sooners defeated the Michigan Wolverines, 14-6, to claim OU’s fifth national title. He was 32-1-1 as the starting OU playcaller and in the 1980s went on to be a color commentator on college football telecasts with ABC, CBS, ESPN and Fox. Davis is a part of the Tulsa Sports Animal broadcast team joining Animal Fodder host Kevin Ward every Monday at 10 a.m.
Martinez is described as “self-made artist” with the ability to turn any song into a “heart-pounding, foot-stomping, guitar-driving good time,” according to his website. Martinez tours with his band, Wild Frontier, and their new CD, “The Lineman,” is available online. They’ve shared the stage with noted country music acts like Brooks and Dunn, Joe Nichols, Keith Urban, Chris Cagle, Phil Vassar, Kenny Chesney, Sara Evans, Martina McBride and Tanya Tucker. Martinez will also be performing Feb. 15 at the Tahlequah North End District eatery The Branch the night before the gala.
Aside from the three guests, the Northeast Oklahoma Heart Center-sponsored affair will showcase TCH’s growth over 2012 while honoring three local residents. Foundation Board member Pamela Coonce said the gala awards offer a great way to recognize people who have made significant contributions to the community through their professional and volunteer service.
“We have so many unsung heroes in this community, and it’s a perfect opportunity to recognize them,” she said.
Those being honored include Heart of Gold Award recipient Marguerite Arnold; McIntosh, Masters, Medearis Award recipient Dr. Tracey Childers; and Thompson Award recipient Dr. Jim Lewis.
Tahlequah Hospital Foundation member JoAnn Bradley said the Hearts of Gold Gala is important for Tahlequah.
“It gives the foundation an opportunity to help the hospital purchase equipment, land and other needed sources,” she said. “It also helps the hospital provide scholarships for its employees to obtain nursing and health care related degrees.”
Each year, TCH gives away close to $8.6 million in uncompensated charity care and uses the scholarships monies to help identify future TCH staff or providers, said TCH Auxiliary Services Director and Communications Director Ami Maddocks.
“Each student approved receives the total [amount needed] for tuition and books. In return, the student signs a contract agreeing to work at Tahlequah City Hospital for a length of time dependent on the amount of scholarship money received,” she said. “This has proved to be a very successful recruitment tool.”
Maddocks noted there are no specific health care disciplines required for students to be eligible for scholarships.
“Each case is evaluated individually to determine what is best for both the student and the hospital,” she said.
The money raised from the event also goes toward keeping TCH on pace with current medical practices and technological advances, Maddocks said.
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