A lot of people helped make this year’s Balloon Festival a high-flying success. To each and every one, Gatesway offers sincere thanks for a job well done.
Despite less than ideal weather the first day of the festival, it has been estimated more than 12,000 people made their way to Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 21-22, for this year’s event, which for the first time included horse racing.
The balloon glows both evenings were spectacular and the Saturday morning flights were a sight to behold. The children’s areas were filled to overflowing with youngsters and their parents laughing, playing and having a wonderful time. The delegation of arts and crafts vendors participating in the event were kept busy from early morning until closing meeting the needs of eager buyers.
“On a scale of 1-10,” Gateway CEO Judi Myers ranked this year’s event “an 11, at least.”
“The balloon festival is important not only as a fund-raiser but as a way for us to show our appreciation to the community for the support we receive,” she noted.
Drawing special praise this year were presenting sponsors Fleming Building Co., Shangri-La Golf Club, Resort & Marina and the George Kaiser Family Foundation; activity sponsors Saint Francis Hospital South, International Insurance Brokers and the Zarrow Families Foundation; and Balloon sponsors Schwickerwrath Dirt Sales and Butler Blue-Scope Buildings.
Collectively, these firms and others contributed the funding necessary to cover all aspects of the event and help Gatesway realize a profit that will go directly into enhancement of the agency’s residential and vocational programs.
Neighbor News served as Digital Media Sponsor providing valuable advertising exposure via each of its Tulsa area websites.
Now in its 50th year of operation, Gatesway employs some 400 people dedicated to meeting the needs of a like number of adult clients on a 24/7 basis 365 days a year.
When the agency first opened its doors in 1963, there were no options for families of adult individuals with developmental disabilities. “There simply was no place for them in our society,” Myers said.
That scenario began to change the day Helen Gates was told her son, Ronnie, who was born with Down syndrome, would have to leave the state-supported school he was in and be placed in a geriatric nursing home. “He was 21 years old. What kind of life could he have in an environment like that?” Gates often asked friends and associates.
Under Gates’ direction, the agency immediately set about creating a number of innovative new approaches. “We do things the Gates way,” quickly became a rally cry that has enabled it to touch the lives of thousands of individuals and their families and, in the process, help write hundreds of success stories, Myers said.
“Our goal is to do everything in our power to help the people we serve acquire the living skills, vocational skills, and social skills necessary to become vital parts of their community,” Myers said. “We don’t always succeed but that doesn’t mean we don’t always try.
“We want to open up the world for them.”
Friday Pictures – Coming Soon!
Saturday Pictures – Coming Soon!