BKDers and local not-for-profit connected by the same thread.
BKD has rallied behind the 4RKids Foundation since its founding in 2003. The organization was created by Dr. Barbara Whinery to promote community awareness of individuals with special needs and provide vocational training, employment, services and opportunities for those individuals throughout northwestern Oklahoma.
Senior Associate Katie Patton, Accounting Outsourcing Services Manager Margaret Williams, 4RKids Founder Dr. Barbara Whinery and 4RKids Executive Director Tricia Mitchell at the 2019 4RKids Foundation Retreat.
BKD Accounting Outsourcing Services Manager Margaret Williams and Senior Associate Katie Patton have continued building upon the history BKD has shared with 4RKids. They’ve been involved with some of the organization’s most recent accomplishments and have found a home away from home within the community. “It makes you smile to think about everything that’s been accomplished,” Margaret says.
4RKids Executive Director Tricia Mitchell believes 4RKids has been life changing. “The services we provide can’t be found anywhere else in Enid,” she says. “We try to see the gaps in services and then fill them."
Oklahoma pursues program to provide individuals education, resources and a meaningful life
Currently, the organization includes a number of facilities, such as the employment center, gift shop and bookstore. Clients are employed at each and provide services such as shredding and recycling and making custom greeting cards. They also co-package dog treats to be shipped to Greatest American Dog Treats as part of the 4RPups vocational program. Travis Brorsen, founder and CEO of Greatest American Dog Trainers and host on Animal Planet, discovered the 4RPups program and formed a partnership with the organization.
Watching 4RKids grow has been an amazing experience for Margaret, whose son Justin has been involved since the organization began. Justin was featured in the first-ever 4RKids calendar, which started as a way for the foundation to promote their mission through compiling their photos to highlight their clients, board members and accomplishments, and sell for a small profit.
Justin Williams and Margaret Williams promote 4RKids while applying for the Oklahoma Nonprofit Excellence (ONE) Awards from the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits. 4RKids is one of 24 finalists for the 12th Annual ONE Awards, which took place April 27, 2019.
Katie Patton with 4RKids client Travis at “Night to Shine,” a special prom night event in Enid sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, an organization committed to celebrating the special needs community.
Seven years later, Katie Patton started volunteering and assisting with the books for 4RKids. An opportunity to get involved on the board opened shortly after she joined BKD, and given the history she had with the organization’s financials and how they operated on paper, she felt it was a great fit. She’s since held various positions including treasurer, vice president and president.
“But it’s not just running a board of directors,” she says. “We’re pretty hands-on inside of our programs. We’re probably one of the most active-working boards here in Enid. You really get to see how we’re meeting our mission when we go to our fundraisers and see those that are a part of the program.”
The intersection of hard work and celebration
The greatest fundraiser for the organization is its annual walk, Walk 4RKids, which takes place in a new location every September. Tons of teams gather, all usually named in honor of someone who has special needs. “It’s amazing to see everyone come together for Team Jake, Team Justin, or whichever team it may be. Everyone is there to celebrate for the same reason,” says Katie.
A portion of money raised from the annual walk is used to fund teacher grants. Special education teachers can fill out a grant application for classroom equipment, which the board goes through each year. They’re thrilled to put a portion of money into the community. “People we may not be reaching through our programs,” Katie explains, “we’re reaching through the school system to help.”
Another significant program is the Miracle League of Enid, which sponsors a baseball league that forms every spring. The Miracle League is a national organization that provides the opportunity for all kids, regardless of ability, to play baseball and be part of the community. The local organization Enid Noon AMBUCS helps fund special vehicles, or riding bikes, which have helped bring the different groups together to promote a unique community, Katie explains.
Margaret has been doing T-ball with Justin since what feels like the beginning of time. Out on the field, Justin goes by Justin Eric “The Hammer” Williams. “He’s known for hitting the ball out of the park,” says Margaret. “And he doesn’t hit off the tee, he makes them pitch it to him.”
One of the organization’s greatest accomplishments took place in March 2018. 4RKids finished building a $500,000 miniature golf course designed for any individuals who use wheelchairs or walkers or have difficulty getting around. This is the only handicapped-accessible course in the state.
“When we opened that last year, everyone came together in the community—those with and without disabilities—to see what we had been working so hard to accomplish,” says Katie. “That’s something I feel really proud about.”
The 4RKids Foundation breaks ground on the new golf course in 2018.
Giving back and gaining a new perspective
Tricia Mitchell explains the entire reason for founding 4RKids was to provide better opportunities for Dr. Whinery’s son, Jake. “Through her dedication and commitment to the organization,” says Tricia, “we’ve been able to expand and excel in all we do.”
The original BKD support behind 4RKids’ earlier days came from partners Doug Van Meter and Jon Redelsperger, Director Jarretta Huckins and Chief Operating Officer Eric Hansen, who encouraged Oklahoma partners at the time to contribute. The office raised money as well as helped count contributions for 4RKids. Considerable support also came from BKD ambassadors Dale Tagge and Dan Randall, who still contribute today. One year, Margaret explains, Dale matched up to $5,000 of any other company in town that raised money, and then went on local television to promote the matching fund.
Enid Partner Jon Redelsperger explains BKD’s footprint in the community has grown significantly since even five years ago. “Learning to put others before ourselves translates very well into honing our client service skills,” he says. “Participating on boards has helped people gain a perspective they wouldn’t have obtained otherwise.”
Front: Justin Williams, Margaret Williams and Jake Whinery. Back: Director Jarretta Huckins, Partner Jon Redelsperger and BKD ambassadors Gary Lewis, Dale Tagge and Dan Randall support 4RKids in 2007.
Katie Patton, Justin Williams and Tax Manager Michelle Ratzlaff and family take a breather during the Miracle League games.
Katie’s rewarding experience with 4RKids has been helped in part by not having to second guess how her commitment will interrupt her typical day at BKD or whether she’s able to attend committee or board meetings. “Our partner and managing partners have always been extremely open-minded to find your passion and find where you want to serve,” she says.
“It’s amazing how one small organization in 2002 has impacted so many different offices unknowingly.”
The organization and all of its unique pieces hold a special place in the heart of our Oklahoma offices. Visit the 4RKids website for further program and event details, as well as opportunities to show your support or get involved.
Share Your Story
Do you know a BKDer with admirable community involvement, interesting hobbies, exciting accomplishments, or a unique client story? We want to hear all about it! For more information or to submit, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.