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Readers meet seven authors at Edmond’s Best of Books

justin brotton - Tuesday, April 05, 2016


By Darl DeVault


Joe Washington at best of books in EdmondEdmond, Oklahoma’s most author-centered bookstore invited readers and sports fans to meet some of states most accomplished authors on April 2. The gathering of writers at Best of Books at Kickingbird Square helped celebrate the unofficial kickoff to Oklahoma Book Awards week.

The crowd was evenly split between the bookstore’s normal weekend customers Saturday and those coming to meet the seven authors. Bookstore owners Joe, Nan and Elena Hight hosted the group of writers, including new author and legendary OU running back Joe Washington.

Washington and former newsman Tom Lindley were featured during the “Afternoon with Oklahoma Authors” at the bookstore. The special event for the bestselling authors allowed customers to meet the authors and have their books signed.

“It’s exciting to have authors of this caliber coming to Edmond to share their time with their readers,” said Joe Hight, president of Best of Books. “We are proud to help highlight the week leading up to the Oklahoma Center for the Book event to be held Saturday in Oklahoma City.”

Hight returned to Oklahoma in 2014 to purchase the independent bookstore that has served the community more than 30 years. He finished his distinguished day-to-day journalism career serving as editor of The Gazette in Colorado Springs, where he helped journalist Dave Philipps win a Pulitzer Prize for report in 2014. Hight still writes a column, teaches a media ethics class and does industry consulting from Edmond.


Author Lindley, a former reporter and editor for The Oklahoman, was joined by Oklahoma banker, civic leader and philanthropist Gene Rainbolt, the subject of Lindley's nonfiction Oklahoma bestselling book, Out of the Dust: Gene Rainbolt, A Life for Oklahoma.

Washington, who went on to a 10-tear NFL career, was a key player on the Sooners' national championship teams in 1974 and 1975. He helped the Washington Redskins win the 1982 Super Bowl and played in another. Noted for playing in silver shoes, the OU legend is the author of bestselling book, The Seven Secrets of the Silver Shoes: Principles for Success On and Off the Field, a September 2015 release.

Also participating Saturday were authors Dale R. Lewis, Footprints in the Dew; Vickie K. Spencer, Sailor the Farm Dog series; Carolyn Macy Miracle on the Hudson, Oklahoma Night Before Christmas; Paige Renee Wedman, Once Upon a Whimsical Tale, Mabel in the Bath; J. Matthew Nance, Living Wisely; and Barbara McClanahan, The Train to Perry.

Lewis, the Original Buffalo Dale, was on a book tour promoting his version of the most famous unsolved murder in the Southwest 43 years ago. E.C. Mullendore III, the heir to the 300,000 acre Cross Bell Ranch Empire in Oklahoma was murdered at home. Shot also was ranch employee Damon ‘Chub’ Anderson. Mullendore carried one of the largest life insurance policies in the United States at the time. No one was ever charged in the murder. Befriending Chub Anderson later in life, Lewis adds many new perspectives on the mystery in his new book, Footprints in the Dew.

Saturday’s 2016 Oklahoma Book Awards are sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for the Book and the Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book. The program receives assistance from volunteers from Best of Books.

Books considered for those awards must have an Oklahoma-based theme, or entrants (authors, illustrators or designers) must live or have lived in Oklahoma and published between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of the preceding year. Finalists are notified in February, but winners are not announced until the presentations.

The Oklahoma Center for the Book website reflects that it is a state affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, and is organized to focus attention on the vital role of books and reading in our lives. The center “promotes the past, current, and future works of Oklahoma authors; promotes the literary heritage of the state; and encourages reading for pleasure by Oklahomans of all ages.” Advised by the Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book, the center has sponsored the Oklahoma Book Awards and literary activities at libraries and bookstores for more than 20 years.

RIVERWIND CASINO’S Charity Golf Tournament

justin brotton - Saturday, August 01, 2015

Riverwind Casino Charity Golf TournamentNorman-area business owners and representatives participated in the third Riverwind Casino charity golf tournament held at The Trails Golf Club. More than $46,000 was raised, and will benefit two non-profit organizations – Cavett Kids Foundation and Norman’s Mary Abbott Children’s House. Teams placing in the tournament include the William’s Team, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and Cowboy Sports Properties. The inaugural golf classic raised more than $29,000 in 2012, but was cancelled in 2013 so the casino could focus its efforts on helping storm-impacted communities after the May tornadoes. More than $35,000 was raised in 2014.

Deaconess Pregnancy & Adoption Services Hosts An Evening With Kevin Sorbo

justin brotton - Saturday, August 01, 2015

On Tuesday, August 25, 2015, Deaconess Pregnancy & Adoption Services will host their 8th Annual Angels of Destiny. The keynote 

Kevin Sorbo

speaker will be Kevin Sorbo, who starred in the 1990s TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, which was watched in 176 countries and surpassed even Baywatch as the most watched TV show in the world. He appeared in the 2011 movie “Soul Surfer,” and his most recent film is the critically acclaimed “God’s Not Dead,” in which he plays the role of a philosophy professor who tries to convince his students that God is dead.

Why the gap in his successful career? Sorbo suffered a series of debilitating strokes after an undiagnosed aneurysm in his shoulder – a critical illness that he kept hidden – leaving him partially blind and barely able to walk. It took over three years to regain his health 

and resume his active lifestyle, and to fully understand the true power in overcoming adversity. He will be sharing his incredible story of suffering and recovery in an effort to inspire those overcoming adversity at some point in their lives. Sorbo’s book, “True Strength: My Journey From Hercules to Mere Mortal – and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life” chronicles his journey from the unimaginable to ultimately finding the real measure of success.

Clients of Deaconess Pregnancy & Adoption

Services also must overcome extreme adversity. Disregarding their own grief and pain, birthparents courageously choose life for their children by releasing them for adoption; while adoptive couples, on their road to adoption, often endure miscarriages and expensive infertility treatments. And foster children often endure abandonment, abuse and neglect while waiting for an adoptive family.

Deaconess Pregnancy & Adoption Services offers free services, counseling, resources and support to birth parents who choose life, and assistance to families who provide a forever family and home to brokenhearted children.

The event will take place at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage museum from 7-9 p.m. (Doors open at 6 p.m. for shopping and raffle; dinner and program begin at 7 p.m.) For more information and tickets, please visit www.deaconessadoption.org. All proceeds raised will go to benefit the works of Deaconess Pregnancy & Adoption Services. 

Son of the Congo, Adopted Son of Oklahoma

justin brotton - Friday, May 01, 2015

By Jason Black

Having the Oklahoma City Thunder in town is awesome. The best athletes in the world come to our downtown for us to watch, while our own team represents our city and state on national television. More than likely, we are going to cheer no matter who plays for the Thunder. It’s like Jerry Seinfeld said – “We are cheering for laundry.”

It becomes more interesting when we learn more about the guys that put on the Thunder blue. By learning about their background and where they come from, we are given an opportunity to see who we are really celebrating.

As lucky as we are to have the team, we are even luckier to have these individuals representing Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant gave $1,000,000 to the tornado relief in 2013, and Russell Westbrook opens new reading rooms for children.

The deepest dive for any Thunder player comes in the form of a new documentary, “Son of the Congo,” that details Serge Ibaka’s journey from his native Congo in Africa to Oklahoma City. The movie debuted at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, followed by a red carpet premiere at the Civic Center in Oklahoma City, which was attended by all of Ibaka’s teammates, Mayor Mick Cornett, director Adam Hootnick and producer David Jacoby.

The idea for the project came from Ibaka’s manager, Jordi Vilà Sánchez. He sent an email to the popular ESPN columnist Bill Simmons, also the editor-in-chief of his own ESPN spin-off called “Grantland.”

“I was forwarded an email from someone claiming to represent Serge,” said Jacoby, director of all audio/visual content for Grantland. “I thought it was complete bull. When we found out it wasn’t, we told them we absolutely would like to be involved in telling this story.”

Enter director Adam Hootnick, who had worked with ESPN’s fabulous documentary series “30 for 30,” which was also co-created by Simmons.

“They called me and said we needed to be ready to shoot in the Congo in five weeks,” Hootnick said. “I laughed. It would be hard to pull that off in five months, let alone five weeks! But we made it happen, and we are really proud of the final product.”

What they made happen was going to the Congo with Ibaka and filming over a nine-day period.

“Originally it was supposed to be a short,” Hootnick said. “But as we shot, we kept getting more and more amazing stuff. I brought it home, we edited, and it was 65 minutes long … way too long for a short. I turned it in and said, ‘you tell me what you want cut out.’”

The answer was – nothing. Hootnick had captured too much good content to cut anything, making this the first full-length feature that Grantland produced.

All “30 for 30” episodes are amazing, but they are from a director’s point of view about a subject from the last 30 years. They usually aren’t about contemporary athletes or their stories. Documentaries about current athletes aren’t generally as raw and emotional as “Son of the Congo.” Kobe Bryant’s “Muse,” which appeared on Showtime, comes to mind, in which Bryant is the only person interviewed and basically talks about what a great leader he is. We find out that his muse is apparently himself.

“Son of the Congo” features Ibaka telling his own story in his own words, plus interviews with his manager and agent. We see where Ibaka came from, and everything he went through to become the basketball player and man that he is today. It can’t be emphasized enough how amazing it is that Serge has accomplished what he has. The story and this movie are remarkable.

We also learn what it’s like for him to go home to see his family. When word leaks that he is at a certain location, the locals flock to see him. All of them crowd around, many of them asking for something. Some scream, “Give me money so I can leave!”

You can see on his face how draining this is on Serge. Not because he blames people for asking him for money, but because he knows he can’t help everyone. He tries, though, by constantly giving money to people for medical care, food and housing.

We also meet his daughter, who most people are unaware of. In fact, Serge didn’t know about her until recently. He was about to leave for Spain to play basketball when his girlfriend became pregnant. Ibaka’s father asked her not to put any more pressure on Serge by telling him, and that he would be responsible for the child. Ibaka’s father took care of her for five years before revealing to Serge that he was a dad.

“At first I was like, ‘Are you joking?’” Ibaka said after the screening. “He told me he wasn’t, and explained why he did what he did. Now, she is my best friend. I want her to come to the States.”

The movie is a great opportunity for fans and his teammates to learn Ibaka’s story.

“It’s great to see where he comes from,” Thunder player Dion Waiters said. “We all talk about where we come from here (in the United States), but he’s from worlds apart.”

Ibaka’s girlfriend, pop star Keri Hilson, who looked stunning on the red carpet, was also getting her first look at the movie.

“I can’t wait,” Hilson said. “I have my tissues ready. I know his story, but I want to see it on the big screen.” Hilson has been with Ibaka to the Congo, so she is familiar with his past struggles and trying to help everyone he can.

After the screening, Hilson found director Hootnick, locked eyes with him and said, “You did it. It was wonderful! I want to watch it again!”

After the documentary was over, Ibaka, Hootnick and Jacoby took the stage for a panel discussion about the movie, hosted by Thunder play-by-play man Brian Davis.

Hootnick explained that he and Ibaka wanted to have the premiere in Oklahoma, before it aired on television, because Oklahoma has become a second home for Ibaka. He knows the people of Oklahoma support him, and the community is helping his efforts in his native country.

A lasting image from the documentary is a man painting a mural of Ibaka on a wall in the Congo. Right across his jersey it says “Oklahoma City.” Never could anyone have imagined that Oklahoma City would appear on a wall in Africa, which shows how much impact this team and these men has had for the city across the world.

“The dream is free,” says Ibaka in the movie, and repeated it to the crowd afterwards. This is the saying that kept him going to achieve his dreams when things were really rough. He knows this story is for the kids.

“The youth of America and the youth of the Congo can see this and know that anything is possible,” Ibaka said.

Oklahoma City is not just fortunate to have the Thunder to cheer for, but also to have these guys to cheer. We are fortunate to have a player like Serge Ibaka on the court, and even luckier to have the man off the court.

Mayor Cornett said it best before the movie started: “Serge, you might be the ‘Son of the Congo,’ but to this crowd, you’re home.”

The entire documentary, which ran on ESPN in April, is broken up into parts and available for viewing on www.grantland.com.

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