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MSA, city partner for warriors fundraiser

MSA web

Mustang Softball Association and city of Mustang have partnered to host the second annual Warriors for Freedom fundraiser.

Troy Schweinbert with MSA and Mustang Parks and Recreation’s Nic Bailey helped spearhead the event, which will raise funds to help military veterans and their families, said Scott Deatherage, Warriors for Freedom Foundation vice president of veteran affairs and media relations.

“We are thrilled at the support Warriors for Freedom has received from the Mustang Softball Association and the city of Mustang,” Deatherage said.

The fundraiser will be held April 11-13 in Mustang. The tournament will include all age groups of girls fast-pitch softball. Entry fees for each team are $75 for T-ball and $175 for all other age groups. There is a three-game guarantee format, Schweinberg said.

This year’s master of ceremonies will be retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Rusty Dunagan. On Sept. 22, 2010, Dunagan lost both legs and his left arm after his patrol in Afghanistan encountered an IED. The tournament honors Dunagan and Oklahoma fallen service members. All proceeds will benefit Warriors for Freedom Foundation, Deatherage said. The foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides support to military and their families with activities, mental health assistance and wellness, as well as awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and combat stress reaction.

“Oklahoma residents have provided this country with strong military personnel and unparalleled patriotism,” said retired U.S. Army Major Ed Pulido, founder of Warriors for Freedom Foundation. “This event will help us make an even more dramatic impact right here in central Oklahoma.”

Pulido knows the impact of assistance for Oklahoma’s military families. He served almost 19 years in the Army and was injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) in 2004.

“We want this event to bring in all cities within Canadian County to help support this great cause,” Schweinberg said.

To register for the tournament or for more information, go to or

Mustang Elementary celebrates prize

made by milk photo courtesy

Students from Mustang Elementary celebrate their third grand prize-winning milk carton creation for the Made By Milk Carton Creation Contest. The school used more than 41,000 recycled cartons to build a replica of a space shuttle. The nationwide contest, sponsored by Evergreen Packaging, promotes milk consumption and encourages students to adopt eco-friendly habits by recycling and reusing milk cartons. Mustang Elementary plans to use their prize to purchase new gym equipment. Pictured are Mustang Elementary third graders Conley Matthews, Mason Colbert, and Adisen Williamson. (Photo/courtesy)

Horizon students show heart


By Traci Chapman

Horizon Intermediate students showed how much heart they have and how much they care for their teachers during a recent event that raised almost $4,700 for the American Heart Association.

Students made the money – more than $4,671 – during Hoops for Heart, surpassing the school’s $2,000 goal by “a mile,” teacher Joy Osborne said. Their effort was somewhat unusual for children because they did it for someone close to them – fifth grade science teacher Lauren Tilley, whose son Elijah was born in September 2012 with a severe congenital heart defect.

“The students were so proud of themselves,” Tilley said. “They knew they were making a difference even if they only collected $5.”

Tilley’s story touched students’ hearts and was the kind of thing that made parents realize how lucky they were to have healthy children, Osborne said. After a time of great joy – in February 2012 learning she was pregnant with twins – Tilley said everything changed during the 22nd week of her pregnancy.

“We found out about Elijah’s severe congenital heart defect – at that same time the doctors saw that I was starting to have complications and contractions and the babies were trying to come really early,” Tilley said. “It was a blow that I cannot describe.”

Elijah was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, basically classified as having only half a heart, Tilley said. The disease kept the left ventricle in her baby’s heart from developing properly, a condition that until the late 1980s was a death sentence. The Tilleys were lucky, however – through all of the heartbreak and worry, there was always a glimmer of hope for their son, she said.

“We had a lot of ups and downs,” Tilley said. “Plans were broken, re-worked, hopes were brought up and then shattered.”

Elijah had his first surgery in October 2012; about three weeks later, he went into cardiac arrest and came back. During that time it looked like he was too fragile for a needed procedure to repair his heart, but he surprised his doctors and rebounded back. Doctors performed the procedure – called a Norwood – in November 2012.

“It is a very risky procedure,” Tilley said. “Elijah came through with flying colors – in all he was in the hospital for over 90 days.”

 All of this took place in Dallas, at Children’s Medical Center. Finally, when Elijah was seven months old he was able to come home for the first time and see his twin sister. While another surgery is on the horizon, Tilley said she counts all of the blessings Elijah brings.

“He is a fighter and a true testimony to strength and courage, he has taught me how valuable life is,” she said. “It is a daily struggle to fight the fear and emotions that come with this and how it effects our family but we are getting through it together.”

As Elijah has brought Tilley strength, she has shown courage to her students, who were inspired to work to raise the Hoops for Heart funds, as well as work to improve their own health during the month-long event. It was a project embraced not only by students, but also by teachers and staff throughout Horizon, Tilley and Osborne said. As Tilley brought others strength, they gave her encouragement and love that helped her get through the difficult months, she said.

“This has been a great learning experience for the students,” Tilley said. “Friends and family have been such a support and I love sharing our story – you never know who it might touch or reach.”

Relay team to hold Saturday ‘marvel-ous’ garage sale

Mustang High School “MARVEL-ous” Relay for Life team members prepare for their fundraiser garage sale, set for Saturday. (Photo/courtesy)

Mustang High School’s “MARVEL-ous Relay for Life Team has been gearing up for the big event, holding several special fundraisers to drum up funds for their cancer fighting efforts.
On Saturday, the group’s biggest event is set — a ‘marvel-ous’ garage sale of a wide variety of items. All proceeds will go to Relay for Life, team members say.
The sale will be held Saturday, March 22 from 8 a.m. to 2 pm. at 300 Chisholm Trail in Mustang.
For more information, call Travis at 405-532-4831.

Mustang to launch spring cleanup


Spring is here and that means Mustang’s annual Spring Cleanup is just around the corner.

“Spring Cleanup if for all residential sanitation customers and is our way of helping get larger items cleared out before summer,” Mustang City Manager Tim Rooney said.

Pickups are staggered and based on regular refuse pickup days, Rooney said. Items may be placed at the curb up to a week before the scheduled cleanup day, he said.

Pickups are scheduled as follows:

  • Trash pickup on Monday – Saturday, March 29
  • Trash pickup on Tuesday – Saturday, April 5
  • Trash pickup on Thursday – Saturday, April 12
  • Trash pickup on Friday – Saturday, April 19

All items for pickup must be at the curb by 7 a.m. on residents’ respective cleanup days.

Items placed next to mailboxes, structures or fences will not be picked up. There is some limitation on items, although freezers, refrigerators and air conditioners will be accepted. Brush, tree limbs and similar items must be kept to a 4-foot length or shorter and bundled with rope or cord; small pieces must be placed in some kind of bag or container, officials said.

Items not acceptable for pickup include:

  • ”Massive” rocks or concrete pieces;
  • Hazardous waste materials;
  • Batteries;
  • Tires;
  • Paints, oils or hazardous liquids;
  • Dead animals; or
  • Large tree stumps.

For more information, call the city of Mustang at 376-4521.

Chocolate festival a sweet success

Paige Hesse

Friends of the Mustang Library had sweet success with the annual fundraiser held last week. Library director Desiree Webber said Monday more than $5,000 was raised at the festival. Organizers said proceeds would be used to purchase equipment and hire instructors for the library’s computer training lab.

Paige Hesse

Paige Hesse

chocolate festival 2014

Prizes were awarded to some participants, including:

  • Best Taste – Coldwell Banker Select
  • Most Unique Taste – Oklahoma Celiac Support Group
  • Best Decoration – Gourmet Café.
Jeff Landrith hands out treats (Photo/Traci Chapman)

Jeff Landrith hands out treats (Photo/Traci Chapman)

Table sponsors for this year’s event were Arbor House, Bank of Commerce, Canadian County Coalition for Children and Families, Canadian County Master Gardeners, Coldwell Banker Select, Eagle Ridge, Family Wellness Chiropractic, First National Bank & Trust, LD’s Specialties and Gourmet Cafe, Main Edge Realty, Metro Signs, Mona Lisa Face Painting, Mustang Kiwanis, Mustang Library Board, Mustang Rotary Club, Oklahoma Celiac Support Group, Papa Murphy’s Pizza, Scenty/Velata by Cindy Manning and Sunshine OHCE, Webber said.

Jess Schweinberg

Jess Schweinberg

Students reach out to help others

Canadian Valley Technology Center students enrolled in Biomedical Sciences are also officers for the Health Occupations Students of America chapter at the Dr. Earl Cowan Campus south of Yukon. The students are collecting items needed at Bethany Children’s Center. Pictured (from left) are Amy Ferguson, Yukon, Jessica Adams, Mustang, Ashley Escobar, Home School-Calumet, Megan Gorrell, Mustang, Chance Hernandez, Yukon. (Photo/courtesy)

Student officers at Canadian Valley Technology Center’s Dr. Earl Cowan Campus are not content to just hold an office.

The five students elected to offices in Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) this school year are collecting items needed at Bethany Children’s Center.

“There is no requirement for community involvement (by HOSA officers), so we decided to do something on our own to help kids,” said Chance Hernandez, a Yukon High School junior who is enrolled in Biomedical Sciences at CV Tech.

The Children’s Center provides long-term rehabilitative care to children with complex medical needs and rehab for children in short-term rehab who have experienced brain or spinal cord injuries.

Through March 7, the Cowan Campus officers are collecting items that range from non-nylon bristle hairbrushes to youth and adult socks.

“We’re not collecting money,” Hernandez said. “These children need specific things, and we’re going to do our best to collect as many of them as we can.”

Collection tubs have been placed inside the front entrance of the campus, 1701 S. Czech Hall Road (2 miles south of Interstate 40 on Czech Hall Road). Name brand items are requested, because children are used to them, Hernandez said.

Other items requested include:

  • Diapers (Pampers or Huggies only)
  • Pampers sensitive baby wipes
  • Burt’s Bees lip balm
  • Selsun Blue shampoo
  • Arm & Hammer deodorant
  • Kleenex
  • Neosporin Plus
  • Jersey cotton clothing (4T-adult small)
  • Pants with elastic waistbands
  • Pull-over shirts, short and long-sleeve (boys and girls)
  • Rubber-soled shoes or sneakers
  • Backpacks (toddler and teen sizes)
  • CDs (pop, instrumental, lullabies or kid’s music)
  • Audio books on CD (toddler through teen)
  • Batteries (AA, C, D, 9V)
  • Flash/zip drives
  • White washcloths and bath towels
  • Black foam board
  • Postage stamps


United Way smashes records

UWCC Board of Directors and Staff

By Traci Chapman

United Way of Canadian County smashed all records for fundraising in 2013, making the campaign contributions the largest in the history of the organization.

“And not by a little bit,” county director Ashleigh Arnall.

Campaign Chair Dana Hall announced at the organization’s celebration luncheon contributions totaled $170,851 – far surpassing the $153,000 goal set last year. Funds raised will benefit social services offered to residents across Canadian County through United Way partner agencies.

Dana Hall and Canadian County United Way President Eric Anderson (Photo/courtesy)

Dana Hall and Canadian County United Way President Eric Anderson (Photo/courtesy)

United Way of Canadian County Board President Eric Anderson thanked and recognized numerous donors, companies, organizations, volunteers, and advocates for their support during the 2013 annual campaign, which is conducted primarily between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

United Way of Canadian County allocates donated funds to programs administered by 17 local partner agencies, Arnall said. The entities agree to adhere to “higher standards of accountability” than other organizations and participate in an annual review process, she said.

“Through this partnership, United Way serves thousands of Canadian County residents each year,” Arnall said.

United Way of Canadian County maintains an administrative agreement with United Way of Central Oklahoma to provide accounting, fundraising, marketing and other services to United Way of Canadian County in order to keep overhead expenses at a minimum, Arnall said.

For more information, visit or or contact Arnall at 405-523-3580.

Chocolate Festival set for March 7


By Traci Chapman

A month later but not any less sweet, say the organizers of Mustang Library’s annual Chocolate Festival.

Set for Friday, March 7, the festival will feature tastings and chocolate treats for people to purchase for themselves or as gifts. There is still time for anyone wishing to participate in the festival as a vendor to get on board, said Nancy Keiser, Chocolate Festival event chair. Because of inclement weather, this year’s festival is being held a month later than its traditional early February scheduling.

“Businesses, civic groups and individuals who are interested in having a table at the festival should contact me as soon as possible,” Keiser said. “It is a fun community event that benefits the Mustang Public Library.”

Tables are provided at no charge, and Friends of the Mustang Library will provide tablecloths, Keiser said. The festival will be held in Town Center’s newly expanded banquet hall.

In addition to chocolate tastings and gifts, those participating will vie for awards, and a silent auction will be held to benefit the library.

“Awards will be given for Most Unique Chocolate, Best Tasting Chocolate and Best Decorated Table,” Keiser said.  “Winners will be chosen by popular vote and announced before the end of the evening.”

It is not too late to make a donation to the silent auction. To do so contact Tawni Phelan at, Keiser said.

“The silent auction will have all kinds of great prizes, such as limousine rides, hotel packages and more,” she said.

Proceeds from the festival will be used to purchase equipment and hire instructors for the library’s computer training lab, a part of the newly constructed education room, made possible by a recent bond election. Library computer classes are always free to the public, Keiser said.

“Over the years, the Friends have purchased public computer workstations, laptops for the computer training lab, software and books for the library,” Keiser said. “The community can come and enjoy a wonderful chocolate festival and support free, educational programming at the Mustang Public Library.”

The festival will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 7. Keiser said in years past, $8 would purchase six treats; this year, $8 will pay for eight treats. Anyone wishing to use a credit or debit card in the silent auction or to buy tickets may do so, she said.

For more information about the festival, contact Keiser at 376-6071 or via email at



Willowood director brings first-hand caregiver experience to post

Willie Ferguson, right, as Betty Boop and one of her residents, Peggy. (Photo/courtesy)

By Traci Chapman

New Willowood at Mustang executive director Willie Ferguson knows first-hand what it is like to watch a parent age and need help beyond a single caregiver’s abilities.

Ferguson had reached a point where they needed more help than what she and her siblings could provide, she said. Looking for information, she found more questions than answers as she tried to help her parents.

“I was ill-equipped in knowing what to do,” Ferguson said. “So began the search – after visiting many homes and shedding many tears, I’d convinced myself I couldn’t leave my loved ones in the institution-like settings I’d visited.”

While investigating her options, she found a place calling itself a “senior living residence.” Soon, Ferguson’s parents had a private apartments in a home – not an institution – and they had round-the-clock care, while not feeling they were in a nursing home.

While that ended Ferguson’s search, it was by no means the end of her journey. A recent retiree, Ferguson began volunteering at her parents’ residence. She would serve meals, call Bingo, give hugs – and she said it changed her.

“At the end of the day I realized I was was more fulfilled emotionally from the time she spent with the seniors than I’d been during the 30 years I worked in the corporate environment,” she said.

When the center director took another position, she convinced Ferguson to take the position. She finally agreed, and she said her life changed forever – for the better.

Ferguson said she has learned a lot working with seniors.

“Pain is real, even when you can’t see it,” she said. “Our bodies fail us. Our minds fail us. Behind every blank stare is a story wanting to be told. Behind every retold story is a cherished memory. Hugs are more important than bank accounts. Hugs are priceless. Experience is etched in the wrinkles at the corners of an eye.  Experience can be forgotten… the list is endless.”

Residents come to assisted living, leaving behind the life they’ve always known, Ferguson said.

“It’s hard for the resident’s to give up the life they once had and move into a house full of strangers….so it’s up to us to make them feel special,” she said. “People move into assisted living because they need something–even if it’s just companionship because they’re lonely.”

The change can be difficult for residents and their families alike, although sometimes the move is the best thing for people who have found themselves alone and isolated in their own homes, the director said.

“Family members will often tell us that mom or dad is very reclusive and will not participate in activities – After a few weeks they call because mom is never in her room,” she said. “Once they get around people their age on a daily basis, they blossom again.”

Always remembering her own parents, Ferguson said her philosophy is to make each person’s “their left years, their best years,” something she shares with her staff, as well as a work ethic that means everyone is a team player and no job is below anyone.

“You’ll find her assisting with all aspects of the resident’s activities of daily living, whether it be the task of doing laundry, serving meals, or just taking the time to stop in and visit with a resident who is feeling under the weather,” marketing director Dana Hall said of her new boss.

Now in her 12th year caring for seniors, Ferguson has worked to continue her education and takes being an advocate seriously, she said. She attended the Oklahoma Aging Advocacy Leadership Academy, a 10 month program sponsored by the Aging Services Division of Oklahoma State Department of Health and has a certificate of Gerontology.

Hall said the residents at Willowood say they feel lucky to have her – Ferguson said feels blessed to have them.

“I never planned to take on a second career, it just happened when I needed the care for my parents,” Ferguson said. “Now I can’t see my life without the elderly in it. I now feel I have a sense of purpose.”