LAWTON (KFDX/KJTL) — The City of Lawton will be presenting four awards at this year’s City of Lawton Birthday Celebration happening at McMahon Memorial Auditorium on Thursday, August 4.

A reception and celebration will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. and will kick off with a cake-cutting by the oldest, suitable living Lawtonian and an all-new performance and ceremony will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

The following awards for 2021-2022 will be presented by Mayor Stan Booker during the ceremony:

Outstanding Citizen: Jeff Elbert
Outstanding Organization: Spread the Word Ministries
Outstanding Youth Organization (new award for 2022): MacArthur Key Club
Lawton Award in Excellence: Isadora Chavez

Jeff Elbert is a teacher at Lawton High School. He serves the community as the founder of The Great 580 and as a pastor. Mr. Elbert received his degree from Cameron University and is a longtime Lawtonian focusing on inspiring, coordinating and conducting positive events in Lawton.

Spread the Word Ministries is led by Pastor Winns and his wife. Beyond their ministries, they conduct STEM Youth summer camps, work with partners to bring in high-quality family friendly performances to Lawton and are involved with several planning committees with the City of Lawton and Lawton-Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce.

New for this year is an award for Outstanding Youth Organization. The inaugural award will be presented to MacArthur Key Club led by students at MacArthur High School and faculty sponsor Kathy Sauders. Not only do they have a positive impact within their school, students within the MacArthur Key Club can be seen volunteering at nearly every City of Lawton event. They were integral this year to the success of Lawton Fort Sill Freedom Festival, and they’ve been involved with the International Festival for several years. They bring positive attitudes and youthful energy to every event.

Isadora Chavez is this year’s recipient of Lawton’s most prestigious award, the Lawton Award in Excellence. This award recognizes individuals who have had a lasting positive impact on The City of Lawton through a lifetime of service to our community. Isadora Chavez is one of the founding members of the International Festival, founded in 1979, and she continues to serve on its planning committee. This event has grown into one of Lawton’s Largest Annual Celebrations, and it is returning for 2022, September 23 through 25. She is also the founder of Mexican Folklore Dancers, and she continues to teach and hand-stitch authentic attire for performers. She provides these services for free to all who are interested, and her personal passion keeps Mexican culture thriving in our community. A naturalized citizen, she is thankful to be an American, and is a proud Lawtonian.

If you know of a deserving individual or organization, new guideline and nomination materials will be made available for 2022-2023 nominations during the first week of September on the City of Lawton’s website. For information on past awardees, go to the website or reach out to the City of Lawton Arts and Humanities office at 580-581-3470.

This year’s City of Lawton Birthday Celebration is provided by the City of Lawton with support from the McMahon Auditorium Authority and the Lawton-Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce and is conducted in collaboration with the Comanche Nation, the Race Relations Commission and the Historical Preservation Committee.

Participants in this year’s inaugural historical performance inspired by the history of Lawton include the Comanche Nation, Comanche Youth Dancers, Buffalo Soldiers, Pioneer Woman, Lawton Rangers, Fort Sill Fire Center of Excellence, Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, Lawton Philharmonic Society, Lawton Community Theatre and the 77th Army Band. A special thanks to the City of Lawton Library and Museum of
Great Plains for assisting with research and providing additional informational materials. This year’s event will also include special guest performers and performances.