ONE Awards Recognize Life-Saving Oklahoma Non-Profits

Sunday, April 10th 2016, 10:54 am
By: News On 6

A big night at Tulsa's Southern Hills Country Club Saturday as leaders from around the state gathered to honor the people who dedicate their lives to helping others.

The ONE Awards recognize outstanding work from non-profit organizations that assist Oklahomans with everything from domestic abuse to providing sports equipment for disadvantaged children.

News on 6 anchor Terry Hood and News 9's Alex Cameron emceed the event. Earlier this week, Terry talked to a past winner and found the story behind the award.

As a semi-professional football player, speed and strength brought Emeka Nnaka to Tulsa - then came one mis-hit tackle.

"As soon as I hit, I could tell there was something different," said Emeka Nnaka, a client at The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges.

He found love and compassion that kept him here.

"When I got injured, this community embraced me as one of its own," he said.

4/16/2014 Related Story: Former Semi-Pro Football Player Takes Leap Of Faith After Crippling Injury

No where was that embrace stronger than Tulsa's Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges.

"When I first came here, I was still spiraling," Emeka said. "Life was turned upside down. You're looking for something to let you know everything's going to be OK."

It's a story executive director Lori Long has heard time and again.

"It means so much for them to come here and have their life back," Long said. "It might be a different life than before their accident or diagnosis, but it's their new normal."

The Center serves more than 1,400 people a year - some of whom come almost every day, free of charge. 

Long said the recognition the Center received by winning a ONE Award has helped them gain more credibility and expand their services.

"It gives us that opportunity to really showcase who we are and what we do," said Lori Long, executive director of Tulsa's Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges.

Which means more money raised, more people served, and more lives changed.

"I found a new beginning here," said Emeka Nnaka, a football player injured by a tackle.

"That is so powerful to be involved in that.  It changes your perception of what's important in life," Long said.

Learn more about the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges