Health & Wellness

(STILLWATER, Okla., April 19, 2024) — Thought leaders from across the OSU System came together Thursday to connect and explore new opportunities to advance healthy lifestyles in Oklahoma.  

The second annual Human Performance and Nutrition Research Institute Symposium showcased HPNRI's transdisciplinary efforts across the broader OSU System and offered insightful perspectives from guests on the game-changing potential of a performance-based approach to health and wellness.   

“Today is about bringing us all together,” said Lance Walker, the Rick and Gail Muncrief executive director of HPNRI. “We did this a year ago, when we brought the campus together to create collision. We're going to do it again this year. Now, we have brought in another element to this. We brought in partners who we can begin working with as we begin to expand some of our collaborations here on campus.”  

The Nike philosophy  

Tony Bignell, vice president of Nike Men’s Performance Footwear, delivered a keynote address about innovation at Nike through four principles.   

“We aligned behind these four guiding principles: Listen to the voice of the athletes; dream big, dream audaciously; players and team respect each other and work hard; and then fail forward fast,” Bignell said. 

Eliud Kipchoge, a Kenyan marathon runner, dreamed big when Nike set out to help him run a marathon in less than two hours.  

“Eliud wanted to be the first person ever to run under two hours for the marathon,” Bignell said. “At the point we started, the world record was 2:03. OK, how do you get rid of three minutes? Well, three minutes is like a kilometer. It's not like you're going to break the record by this much. It's really impossible.”  

Nike began innovating to design shoes that would help accomplish the goal.  

“It's all about people,” Bignell said. “It's all about coming together behind a singular vision, working hard, checking your egos at the door and all of those things.”   

Bignell said they started with science to reduce the weight of a shoe, while stiffening the front and minimizing leg impact to increase speed. Then, they listened to their athletes who wanted a shoe that didn’t make their calves hurt after running 20 miles the previous day. 

Not only was Nike on a mission to create a shoe that propelled Kipchoge to break the barrier in 2019, but then they met another challenge forcing them to fail forward.   

“Once you've made one pair and you've done the race then — we like to make shoes and sell shoes that's kind of what we do — you have to figure out how do you go from making one to make millions,” Bignell said. “That's often harder."  

While Nike works with athletes to make clothes and shoes, Bignell said the principles of life are transferable to a personal level and to institutions like HPNRI.  

"If you listen well, if you focus, you have to follow your dreams, if you're not afraid to fail, and if you put the team above yourself, normally good things happen,” he said.  

Better health through Extension  

Dr. Roger Rennekamp, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities extension health director, also delivered a keynote address on the DNA and ethos of a land-grant institution, emphasizing that their essence is ingrained in their DNA and reflected in their infrastructure.   

With a career immersed in Extension, Rennekamp has focused on health equity and community empowerment. In his role, he leads initiatives aimed at harnessing the collective power of the nation's 111 land-grant universities to prioritize human health and well-being through community engagement.   

Cooperative Extension’s extensive network across the country traditionally focused on agriculture but has since broadened its scope to encompass a health framework. Similarly, the OSU System has mirrored that vision through HPNRI and OSU Extension.  

“Generally, a lot of people would agree 30% of our health is determined by roughly our behaviors, the things that we do and how that we spend our time but the remaining 70% comes from clinical care, the physical environment we live in and the socioeconomic factors,” Rennekamp said. 

As the symposium continued, the threads of innovation were woven through Extension, One Health, performance, technology and research during panel discussions and presentations. 

Some key collaborations involve OSU Extension, the College of Education and Human Sciences, and OSU Agriculture through partnerships to improve human health and nutrition. 

With 15 years in education, CEHS Dean Jon Pedersen has learned the principle of collaborative teamwork across boundaries is vital for transforming lives and enhancing the human condition.   

“We can't do it alone,” Dr. Pedersen said. "When you think about kids in schools and you think about their achievement, only 25-30% of achievement can be attributed to in class experiences, which means a whole lot goes outside those four walls.”  

OSU First Cowboy Darren Shrum shared how he helped the university dream big by taking a step toward feeding a growing population through the Student Farm, where students engage in experiential learning to supply fresh produce to underserved communities, distributing over 53,000 pounds to the community in its inaugural season.  

Expanding health outreach  

During another panel session, HPNRI shared its collaboration with OSU Center for Health Sciences and OSU Extension to expand Project ECHO through new ECHO lines: Athletic Training - Sports Medicine, Pediatric Obesity and Building Healthy School Communities.  

Seventy percent of counties in Oklahoma do not have access to any kind of athletic health care for their student athletes, said Dr. Aric Warren, OSU-CHS athletic training professor and ECHO hub team lead. 

In its inaugural year, the sports medicine ECHO has reached over 400 attendees, providing information to 40 K-12 schools, 30 higher education institutions, across 44 counties in Oklahoma, 18 states, and two countries.  

The Building Healthy School Communities pilot project, launched in January, assesses the physical and health literacy needs of participating school districts and identifies ways HPNRI can support them through partnerships or collaborations.  

“Recent research tells us that nutrition, physical activity and healthy relationships play a part not only in academic success, but also in our students' mental health,” said Shana Classen, Oklahoma State Department of Education director of health and physical education. "That's something we've heard over and over from not only our students and our teachers, that it’s something that we're really needing to focus on.”  

HPNRI’s collaborative efforts continued to be highlighted through sports medicine innovation and athletic training technology with OSU Athletics.  

Dr. Jason Moore shared how the integration with OSU-CHS and OSU Medicine has looked like with OSU athletics. The integration meant bringing expertise from Tulsa to Stillwater through the addition of athletic training, behavioral health and physician positions to impact athletic performance.   

“When you bring in an institution that has so much experience in delivering medical care, that just adds to the ability to provide that care to the population and brings insight that may help athletics,” Moore said.  

The symposium not only emphasized research and collaboration within traditional athletes but also addressed the needs of tactical athletes such as law enforcement, fire, and military personnel through the Tactical Fitness and Nutrition Lab.  

The focus is on health, fitness and performance to ensure those athletes can effectively carry out their physically demanding tasks and maintain public safety and national security. Through collaboration and research, the team aims to provide tailored support and resources to improve athletes' capabilities and overall performance, said Dr. Jay Dawes associate professor of applied exercise science. 

Dr. Jai Rajendran, OSU Office of Technology Commercialization technology and business development manager, and Dr. Jill Joyce, associate professor of public health nutrition, shared how they use The Innovation Foundation at OSU’s App Center to develop mobile apps that improve human health and performance.   

Rajendran was driven to understand cardiometabolic disease due to a family experience. He set out to collaborate with other disciplinary researchers and develop a critical application called BaseMetrics to help in primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.  

Joyce saw a need and developed an app that integrates with popular fitness apps, utilizing the Healthy Eating index scoring system to offer clear guidance on nutritional choices. Users can easily prioritize areas for improvement and receive personalized tips. The app even allows for tracking progress over time and provides suggestions for further enhancements.  

"The HPNRI Symposium witnessed the convergence of scholarly inquiry and scientific progress,” said Elizabeth Pollard, CEO of The Innovation Foundation. “Through this symposium, innovation and dedication converge to shape a future where the health of Oklahomans flourishes. Together, as we exchange insights and drive applied research, we pave the way for a healthier tomorrow, empowering individuals and communities to thrive."

The Initiative is Designed to Help Young Children Catch Up After the Pandemic

Oklahoma City - The Potts Family Foundation has launched Know and Grow Oklahoma: Building Resilient Children, Families & Communities, a statewide initiative to address recovery issues for the youngest of Oklahomans, specifically those born immediately before and during the pandemic, from 2019 to May 2023. Research shows that thousands of these children are experiencing developmental delays as a result of the very unique, often isolated period of time they were born into.

"As a private foundation focused on serving families of children ages 0-5, founders Pat and Ray Potts believed it was important for the Potts Family Foundation to continue to lead the early childhood community, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. This project supports collaborations and service providers, and maximizes the assets of communities to meet the needs of families raising young children across Oklahoma,” said Potts Family Foundation CEO AJ Griffin, EdD.

Know and Grow is a three-pronged project that includes the formation of an Early Relational Health Corps (ERHC), funding Family Resource Centers (FRC) and a Community Discovery project that came first and laid the foundation for the rest of the work. This project is supported by a portion of the state’s American Rescue Plan Act funds and is in partnership with the Office of Family Support and Prevention Services at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

Two phases of Know and Grow Oklahoma launched earlier this week. One builds on the statewide education campaigns Potts Family Foundation is known for, and the other funds Family Resource Centers and/or Family Resource Hubs. The announcement of the individual community awards is coming soon. A total of $4.5 million is being awarded to 8 rural communities representing 22 counties that are home to about 30,000 children under the age of 5. Potts Family Foundation is pleased to partner with OSDH to expand the Oklahoma Family Support Network beyond the metro areas to rural Oklahoma.

FRCs are managed with a framework that strengthens families to help parents, caregivers and their children become more resilient. They rely on community representation and collaboration and are known by many different names nationwide, including Family Centers, Family Support Centers, Family Resource Hubs and Parent-Child Centers. They may be community, school or faith-based and offer activities and programs developed to be reflective and responsive to the specific needs, cultures and interests of the communities and the populations they serve.

Plans for bringing together an Early Relational Health Corps are in the early stages. The Corps is open to anyone interested in creating a better environment for Oklahoma’s children and families, especially those professionals and community members who touch the lives daily of infants and toddlers. ERHC members will educate Oklahomans about the importance of early relationships and experiences for a child’s healthy development.

The core goals of the ERHC are to implement family strengthening and support strategies that counter isolation, bring about a sense of connection and most importantly work upstream to partner with families for the well-being of their young children. Healthy relationships for infants and toddlers are powerful. They lead to quality development and learning to build a strong foundation for healthy adulthood. At its core, early relational health is the state of emotional well-being that grows from the positive emotional connections between babies and toddlers and their parents and caregivers.

As a strategy to help inform the ERHC and communities receiving FRC awards, during the fall of 2023, 15 communities were awarded contracts to discover how Oklahoma children and their families are doing and learn about their experiences during the pandemic as they navigated protocols. The Discovery project also helped to increase awareness among community leaders and early childhood professionals regarding what resources and supports families need now that the pandemic has passed and to create avenues for meeting those needs. A full report created in partnership with the Center for Family Resilience at Oklahoma State University will be released later this month.

Learn more at


About Potts Family Foundation

Potts Family Foundation was created in 1980 and is an operating foundation. The focus areas of the PFF are to provide support for sustainable early childhood initiatives with an emphasis on root causes, empowering people and organizations, impacting future as well as present human needs, leverage resources for the greatest impact, and secure sustainability and the potential replication of evidence-based programs and services.

OKLAHOMA CITY – After winning unanimous approval in the Senate Health and Human Services committee Thursday, a bill to help Oklahoma improve its data on maternal deaths will next be considered by the full Senate. Sen. Jo Anna Dossett, D-Tulsa, and Rep. Cynthia Roe, R-Lindsay, are principal authors of House Bill 2152. If enacted, the bill would help better identify the cause of death in pregnant women and new mothers in Oklahoma.

“According to the National Center for Health Statistic’s most recent data, Oklahoma’s maternal death rate was 31 per 100,000 live births,” Dossett said. “With improved data, we can develop strategies and public policy to reduce maternal deaths in our state.”

HB 2152 would:

  • Improve the efficiency of the Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC) by moving from 25 members to 11.
  • Require hospitals to make a reasonable effort to report all maternal deaths to the Chief Medical Examiner within 72 hours of the death.
  • Require investigation of such reported deaths.
  • Allow the Chief Medical Examiner to share investigative results back with the MMRC.

The legislation was developed with input from the MMRC, the Oklahoma State Medical Association, the Oklahoma Hospital Association, the Oklahoma Maternal Health Task Force, the Oklahoma Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Oklahoma section.

Newswise — Long Beach, Calif. (April 5, 2024)—The common painkiller acetaminophen was found to alter proteins in the heart tissue when used regularly at moderate doses, according to a new study conducted in mice. Researchers will present their work this week at the American Physiology Summit, the flagship annual meeting of the American Physiological Society (APS), in Long Beach, California.  

“We found that regular use of acetaminophen at concentrations that are considered safe—equivalent to 500 mg/day—causes numerous signaling pathways inside the heart to be altered,” said Gabriela Rivera, the study’s first author and a doctoral student working in the laboratory of Aldrin Gomes, PhD, at the University of California, Davis. “These results prompt me to consider using acetaminophen at the lowest effective dose and for the shortest duration possible.” 

Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol and many other pain medications, is generally thought to carry a low risk of harmful side effects when used as directed. It is often recommended over non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen for people with high blood pressure or heart disease. 

In the past, studies examining the possible effects of acetaminophen on the heart have resulted in mixed findings. However, Rivera says that previous research has consistently suggested that using acetaminophen regularly at high doses is more likely to cause heart problems than using it only occasionally and at lower doses. 

Looking at the levels of various proteins in tissues is a common way scientists assess how well the body is carrying out its normal functions. Using mice, Rivera and colleagues in the Gomes lab studied how acetaminophen affects the balance of proteins in the heart. They gave some mice plain water, while others were given water containing an amount of acetaminophen equivalent to 500 mg (the amount contained in one tablet of extra-strength Tylenol) per day in an adult human. 

After seven days, the mice given acetaminophen showed significant changes in the levels of proteins associated with biochemical pathways involved in a range of functions, such as energy production, antioxidant usage and the breakdown of damaged proteins.

“We expected two to three pathways to be altered, but we found over 20 different signaling pathways being affected,” Rivera said. 

The results suggest that long-term medium- to high-dose acetaminophen use could cause heart issues as a result of oxidative stress or the buildup of toxins that are produced as acetaminophen breaks down, Rivera said. While our bodies can usually clear such toxins before they cause damage, it may be harder for the body to keep up when medium- to high- doses are taken consistently over time. 

One caveat is that the research was done in mice and cannot necessarily be extrapolated to humans, Rivera noted. Researchers suggested aiming to limit acetaminophen use to a few days at a stretch and discussing any concerns regarding high-dose acetaminophen use with a person’s health care provider. 


Physiology is a broad area of scientific inquiry that focuses on how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. The American Physiological Society connects a global, multidisciplinary community of more than 10,000 biomedical scientists and educators as part of its mission to advance scientific discovery, understand life and improve health. The Society drives collaboration and spotlights scientific discoveries through its 16 scholarly journals and programming that support researchers and educators in their work. 

Thursday, 04 April 2024 18:52

The OCWP Public Outreach Survey

The OCWP Public Outreach Survey asks participants, “In the area where you live, how concerned are you about water shortages occurring in the next 20 to 50 years?” To date, nearly all participants expressed some level of concern about future water availability! Over the next few weeks Team OCWP will be presenting our latest projections on local water availability in our Round 3 regional meetings. We hope you'll join us to discuss potential strategies to meet your future needs!

Pie chart

Figure 1: Responses to the OCWP Public Outreach Survey Question " In the area where you live, how concerned are you about water shortages occurring in the next 20 to 50 years?"

Round 3 Regional Meetings

Statewide Supply and Demand Projections are in! Let's talk about the future!

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board is pleased to announce the third in a series of stakeholder input meetings, in locations across the state, focused on current policies, supply and demand projections, water quality, and water infrastructure needs.

While anyone may attend, we request participation from local officials, water utility suppliers, regulated industry, commercial agricultural producers, economic development entities, and representing organizations. Round 3 will focus on updated water supply and demand projections through 2075, water quality trends data, and drilling down on local issues.

Round 3 meetings will be held on the following dates and locations. In person meetings are scheduled from 1:00 – 4:00 pm.

  • April 15 | SW – Quartz Mountain State Park Lodge, 22469 Lodge Rd., Lone Wolf, OK 73655 | Present data on the West Central, Southwest, Beaver-Cache, and Lower Washita OCWP Planning Regions

  • April 16 | SE – Choctaw Nation: Antlers Community Center, SW 2nd St., Antlers, OK 74523 | Present data on the Blue-Boggy and Southeast OCWP Planning Regions

  • April 18 | NW – High Plains Technology Center, 3921 34th St., Woodward, OK 73801 | Present data on Panhandle OCWP Planning Region

  • April 19 | NE – OSU-Tulsa, 700 N Greenwood Ave., Tulsa, OK 74106, B.S Roberts Room (#151) in the North Hall (campus map) | Present data on the Middle Arkansas, Grand, Eufaula, and Lower Arkansas OCWP Planning Regions

  • May 3 | Central – Aloft, 209 N Walnut Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73104 | Present data on the Upper Arkansas and Central OCWP Planning Regions

  • Virtual Meeting | April 22, 10:00 am – noon **Join here**


    • Provide a general OCWP update.
    • Provide state and region summaries of water demand, water supply, and water quality data. Regions to be covered in each meeting are identified above.
    • Facilitate up to four concurrent breakout sessions to discuss local water challenges.
    • Provide summary of each breakout group’s discussion.
    • Discuss upcoming OCWP activities.

    Missed the previous meetings or just want to refresh your memory? Summaries of Round 1 and 2 meetings on OWRB’s water planning webpage under Public Meetings link.

Newswise — MINNEAPOLIS – Earlier menopause combined with higher risk of cardiovascular disease is linked to an increased risk of thinking and memory problems later, according to a new study published in the April 3, 2024, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. In this study, earlier menopause is defined as occurring before age 49.

As a person ages, blood vessels, including those in the brain, can be damaged by controllable cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking. These risk factors not only increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease, they increase the risk of dementia.

“While cardiovascular risk factors are known to increase a person’s risk for dementia, what is lesser known is why women have a greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease than men,” said study author Jennifer Rabin, PhD, of the University of Toronto in Canada. “We examined if the hormonal change of menopause, specifically the timing of menopause, may play a role in this increased risk. We found that going through this hormonal change earlier in life while also having cardiovascular risk factors is linked to greater cognitive problems when compared to men of the same age.”

The study involved 8,360 female participants and 8,360 male participants matched for age who were enrolled in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging. Female participants had an average age at menopause of 50. All participants had an average age of 65 at the start of the study and were followed for three years.

Researchers divided female participants into three groups: those who experienced earlier menopause between ages 35 and 48; average menopause between ages 49 and 52; and later menopause between ages 53 and 65. Researchers also looked at whether they had used hormone therapy containing estrogens.

For all participants, researchers reviewed six cardiovascular risk factors: high LDL cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, as well as prescriptions for medications to lower blood pressure.

Participants were given a series of thinking and memory tests at the start and the end of the study. Researchers calculated cognitive scores for each person.

Researchers then examined the associations of cardiovascular risk with cognitive scores in female participants in the three groups and compared them to the same association in male participants.

After adjusting for factors such as age and education, researchers found that female participants with both earlier menopause and higher cardiovascular risk had lower cognitive scores three years later. For each one standard deviation increase in cardiovascular risk score, female participants with earlier menopause showed a 0.044 standard deviation decrease in cognitive scores, compared to male participants in the same age group who showed a 0.035 standard deviation decrease in cognitive scores.

Researchers did not find a similar association for female participants with average or later menopause. Hormone therapy did not affect the results.

“Our study suggests that earlier menopause may worsen the effects of high cardiovascular risk on cognitive decline,” said Rabin. “Since our study followed participants for only three years, more research is needed over longer periods of time. Our findings highlight that age at menopause as well as cardiovascular risk should be considered when developing prevention strategies for cognitive decline.”

A limitation of the study was that the age of menopause was self-reported, and participants may not have remembered that age accurately. Another limitation was that researchers did not include participants who reported a hysterectomy since the age of the procedure was not available. Additionally, no data was available on whether participants had surgical removal of one or both ovaries.

Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease at, home of the American Academy of Neurology’s free patient and caregiver magazine focused on the intersection of neurologic disease and brain health. Follow Brain & Life® on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

When posting to social media channels about this research, we encourage you to use the hashtags #Neurology and #AANscience.

The American Academy of Neurology is the world's largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with over 40,000 members. The AAN’s mission is to enhance member career fulfillment and promote brain health for all. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, concussion, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, headache and migraine.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit or find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn and YouTube.


Journal Link

(OKLAHOMA CITY, March 28, 2024) — The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services partnered with Oklahoma State University on Thursday to celebrate a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Donahue Behavioral Health facility.   

Announced in September 2023, this 200,000-square-foot behavioral health facility on the OSU-OKC campus will replace the Griffin Memorial Hospital in Norman, Oklahoma, which has been the state’s primary mental health hospital for over a century.    

“It's a great day to celebrate an important milestone in improving access to quality health care for those struggling with mental illness,” said Kyle Wray, OSU senior vice president of system affairs. “OSU takes to heart our land-grant mission, which calls us to use our talents and our resources to help our great state solve its most pressing challenges and help Oklahomans live healthy and productive lives.”  

Donahue Behavioral Health will offer an array of innovative services that Oklahomans rely on during their most vulnerable moments. The facility will offer care for adults and adolescents, as well as referrals to outpatient services.  

“The Donohue Behavioral Health facility is another critical step in addressing the mental health needs of our community and throughout Oklahoma,” U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Bice said. “This is an investment that will continue to expand on the One Health goals of Oklahoma State University, which seeks to increase the quality of research and care through all fields of medicine.”  

Equipped with the latest in acute care capabilities, the hospital will expand ODMHSAS’ psychiatric bed capacity and operational reach. The inclusion of an Urgent Recovery Center (URC) will ensure immediate access to vital services, providing walk-in availability to stabilization services.  

“Not only is this going to expand access to behavioral health and health care, but it's going to do so in a way that promotes excellence,” ODMHSAS Commissioner Allie Friesen said. “This incredibly beautiful building is going to exude excellence, and that is exactly what we will provide inside of its walls.”  

Last year, OSU broke ground on the 106-bed, $70 million Oklahoma Psychiatric Care Center in Tulsa, which will open in the next year. 

“When these two facilities are completed, they will catapult Oklahoma into the national spotlight for the way we are addressing and meeting the health care needs of our citizens,” Wray said. 

The new Oklahoma City facility is expected to add about 250 jobs to the local economy. The five-year economic impact of the new hospital on the OKC metro is estimated at $447.5 million, with improvements in job creation and taxes, as well as reducing emergency room costs and homelessness. 

“For the first 130 years of our city's history, we never put anything into mental health services at the city level,” Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said. “When we were developing MAPS in 2018 and 2019, we asked our residents what they wanted to see in MAPS. I think for a lot of people, it surprised them that one of the top four things was mental health. 

“... We are a metro of 1.5 million people and a city of 700,000. We need these services, and we need a hospital like this.” 

The Donahue campus was selected based on ease of access, community support and the opportunity to draw upon broader workforce development partnerships and support resources. The hospital creates the opportunity to explore collaborative health programming opportunities with the school. 

The facility is named after Dr. Hayden Donahue, who became Oklahoma’s first director of mental health in 1953. A former OSU professor, Donahue was named to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1968. 

“By removing stigma and shame, and by giving so many the chance for a normal life, he created a better and brighter future for all,” said Cullen Sweeney, Donahue’s grandson. “The lesson in the legacy of Hayden Donohue, I believe, is that world class care is possible in Oklahoma. Our problems are not insurmountable when we effectively and efficiently harness the resources of state government, along with public and private partners to serve the common good.” 

More than $150 million has been invested in the facility. The Oklahoma Legislature provided $87 million in American Rescue Plan Act money to fund hospital construction. In addition, Oklahoma County Commissioners approved $1.5 million in ARPA funds for relocation, and the City of Oklahoma City and several metro philanthropic organizations have pledged their support. ODMHSAS will also contribute to the hospital's costs through the sale of property in Norman.  

To receive ARPA funding, the Oklahoma Legislature stipulated the new facility must be located within 30 miles of the Capitol. That opportunity allowed ODMHSAS to explore sites outside of Norman, and soon after drew interest from nearby civic leaders.    

“Today in Oklahoma, we're standing tall and we're saying you matter to us,” said state Sen. Roger Thompson from Okemah. “We want you to have the same quality of life we have. We want you to have the same medical care that we have. And from this day forward in Oklahoma, mental health will be at the forefront of everything that we say and do because we love the people of Oklahoma.” 

The hospital was also made possible in part thanks to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, Kirkpatrick Family Fund and Arnall Family Foundation. 

“In the words of Dr. Hayden Donohue, ‘Together, we can create a world where every person feels seen, heard and supported,’” Friesen said. 

Click HERE for the video.


Oklahoma State University is a premier land-grant university that prepares students for success. Through teaching, research and Extension, OSU engages communities and empowers servant-leaders to meet society’s most pressing challenges. OSU is the largest university system in Oklahoma and has more than 4,000 students across its five-campus system and more than 25,000 on its combined Stillwater and Tulsa campuses, with students from all 50 states and more than 125 nations. Established in 1890, OSU has graduated more than 280,000 students to serve the state of Oklahoma, the nation and the world. 

12 events make up OKC’s longest-standing local race tradition benefiting Focus on Home.

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 6, 2024) – The blooming Oklahoma Redbud trees serve as a vibrant reminder of the 41st annual Redbud Classic, Oklahoma City’s longest-standing local race tradition benefiting local charities, set to happen on April 6-7. Event officials welcome and encourage everyone to participate in the 12 different events and celebrations.

With registrations filling fast, bicyclists, runners, walkers, wheelchair and stroller pushers are encouraged to register before March 22 to guarantee an event t-shirt and before registration prices increase after March 31. The Redbud Classic events include:

Saturday, April 6

  • 10-Mile Bike Fun Ride

  • 30-Mile Timed Bike Tour

  • 50-Mile Redbud Fondo

  • 1-Mile Kids’ Fun Run

  • 1-Mile Woof Walk (leashed dog event)

  • Redbud Bike BASH celebration

Sunday, April 7

  • 5K Run

  • 5K Wheelchair Event

  • 5k Pushchair Event

  • 10K Run

  • 2-Mile Walk/Stroller Derby

  • Redbud Run BASH

The fun continues after the events on both days with the Redbud Bike BASH at the Waterford Complex (NW 63rd Street and Waterford Boulevard) on Saturday and the Redbud Run BASH staging in the finishing area at Nichols Hills Plaza (6421 Avondale Dr., Nichols Hills, Oklahoma 73116) on Sunday. These free, celebration events feature family-friendly games and activities, music and entertainment along with food from Oklahoma’s premier food trucks and beverages from COOP Ale Works.

Interested participants can register online now. In-person registration will be available at the registration office between April 4-7. By registering early at, participants are more likely to receive the lowest available registration prices, their choice of T-shirt size as well as a timing tag. Those registered by March 22 are guaranteed an event participant T-shirt.

Each year, the Redbud Foundation Board of Directors selects an Oklahoma City nonprofit organization with whom to partner and serve as the beneficiary of event proceeds. Annually, multiple agencies apply to the Redbud Classic as potential beneficiaries. Focus on Home, an organization serving families experiencing domestic violence, seeking treatment and recovery programs, and families who are experiencing homelessness by providing furniture and furnishings for a dignified home, was selected to benefit from Redbud’s 2024 proceeds.

For complete event details including start times, course maps and registration information, visit


About Redbud Classic

Since 1983, the Redbud Classic ( has become an Oklahoma City tradition involving the community through fun, fitness and philanthropy. The race offers 10- and 30-Mile Bike Tours, a 50-Mile Fondo, and 5K and 10K races. Other events include a 5K Wheelchair Event, 2-Mile Walk and Stroller Derby, a 1-Mile Kids’ Fun Run and the 1-Mile Woof Walk. Each year, Redbud Classic selects a local nonprofit as the race beneficiary, raising almost $1 million for local charitable organizations since the race’s inception.

About Focus on Home

Focus on Home ( provides furniture and furnishings for a dignified home to families in need, as identified by social service agencies as ready for its services. Since August 2014, Focus on Home has served families experiencing domestic violence, seeking treatment and recovery programs, and families who are experiencing homelessness.

“Mission Veteran Expedition: Honoring Vietnam Veterans in the Transportation Industry” returns to Vietnam with ten veterans, documenting their personal experiences of historic events and healing.

 In November 2023, ten Vietnam veterans embarked on a journey they never thought possible, returning to Vietnam, and exploring the locations and memories that for 50 years have held deep significance for each of them. Mission Veteran Expedition, a collaborative venture between CDLLife, FASTPORT, and nonprofits Waypoint Vets and Wreaths Across America, made this journey possible and, together, proudly announce the upcoming release of a new documentary of the trip, “Mission Veteran Expedition: Honoring Vietnam Veterans in the Transportation Industry.”

The documentary, captured and produced by U.S. Army veteran Nicholas Mott, owner of Seven Five Media, will be released and available at no cost on Wreaths Across America’s YouTube channel on Friday, March 29, 2024 – National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

Click here to view a short preview of the documentary.

“The documentary offers an intimate and compelling look at the journey of these veterans,” said videographer Nicholas Mott. “Capturing the essence of their experiences and the profound impact of the Mission Veteran Expedition was truly an honor. I hope other Vietnam veterans will watch it and find it healing.”

The trip offered ten veterans, each of whom has made a living in the transportation industry, an extraordinary opportunity to revisit Vietnam and reflect on their service there. The documentary explores this impactful journey, which combines travel, camaraderie, and history. Waypoint Vets, a non-profit organization dedicated to uniting and empowering veterans through camaraderie and adventure, led the expedition, ensuring each participant experienced a meaningful and lasting journey. The itinerary included a variety of experiences, including:

  • Grounds Tour of the Former Saigon Embassy
  • Walking Street Food Tour through Ho Chi Minh City
  • Cu Chi Tunnels & Mekong Delta Luxury Tour
  • War Remnants Museum
  • Halong Bay Cruise
  • Defense POW / MIA Accounting Agency Tour
  • A ‘Welcome Home’ ceremony hosted at Sirius XM studios in Hollywood, with interviews on Radio Nemo

“The Mission Veteran Expedition successfully commemorated these veterans’ valiant contributions while allowing them to experience the beauty of Vietnam’s landscapes and the richness of its culture,” said Sarah Lee, Army combat veteran and founder of Waypoint Vets. “For many veterans, the memories associated with Vietnam are often intertwined with the challenges of war. This expedition redefined these associations and replaced them with new, healing memories. By engaging with Vietnam on a deep, personal level, the trip forged lasting connections and helped veterans find solace in the beauty of a nation at peace.”

As commemorative partners of The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, FASTPORT and Wreaths Across America have had the honor of “Welcoming Home” more than 7,500 Vietnam veterans. “I feel the trip’s culmination was an important piece of closure for the participant’s journey,” said Brad Bentley, President of FASTPORT, who traveled to Vietnam with the group. “These men returned to the United States to a hero’s welcome, and for millions who never received this show of gratitude for answering the call of duty, it was truly an honor to say, ‘Welcome Home.’”


About Waypoint Vets

Waypoint Vets is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the Mission of Uniting and Empowering Veterans through Camaraderie and Adventure.  Our therapeutic experiences combine mental and physical intensity with America’s most breathtaking landscapes, delivering lasting healing and clarity to military veterans. Waypoint Vets is actively combating post-traumatic stress, military sexual trauma, and suicidal ideation on a national scale. Our Alumni Aftercare and Waypoint Wellness Programs offer mental health seminars, fitness classes, our nationally accredited Veteran Service Officer, and peer support. We are dedicated to helping veterans better navigate life after service. The heartbeat of our mission is to Honor the Fallen by Living and taking back our health and happiness together.


Fastport, Inc. solves America’s toughest recruiting challenges through research, technology, and people. Fastport is also a U.S. Department of Labor Industry Intermediary and a part of the Centers of Excellence to support apprenticeship development and sustainability. For more information about FASTPORT and Registered Apprenticeships, visit or

Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, which was begun by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester in 1992. The organization’s yearlong mission – Remember, Honor, Teach – is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies in December at thousands of veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond.

For more information or to sponsor a wreath, please visit

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