Grand gala

Yukon chamber celebrates a year of excellence

Brian Spikes stretches toward the finish line during the Yukon Chamber Run for the Roses Friday evening. The event was held at Mollie Spencer Farm. (Photo by Michael Pineda)

By Michael Pineda
Staff Writer

It was fitting the Yukon Chamber of Commerce won its biggest bet on a night it celebrated Kentucky Derby theme.

The spring weather held for the 2022 Run for the Roses Gala Friday evening.

As strong winds faded into a breeze at the Mollie Spencer Farm, David Goodwin received the H.B. Frank Citizen of the Year Award amid a chorus of well-wishers singing Happy Birthday. Goodwin is in the banking business with RCB Bank and serves as an advocate for the Yukon High School Leaders of Tomorrow program, which is sponsored by the Yukon Chamber.

“I think it is important for everybody to put effort and time into the community,” he said. “And I think it is very kind of the community to recognize my efforts in doing so the last couple of years.”

Joanne Riley, director for Compassionate Hands, is pictured with her husband John Marquiess. Compassionate Hands was named the Non-Profit of the Year at the Yukon Chamber’s Run for the Roses gala event. (Photo by Michael Pineda)

It was the second year in a row for the gala to take place outdoors. In addition to awards, the event featured a live auction, a stick horse race and contests for best bowtie, hat and decorated stick horse.

“A little windy but awesome, it was very a good night for it,” Chamber President Jay Emory said. “I think it has been a good thing. We will be ready for the indoors, I think next year.

“We are fortunate the spring weather did not take us out with rain. It was great event.”

Other gala award winners included:

  • T.J. Lowery Humanitarian of the Year: Dr. Kyle Henderson
  • Non-Profit of the Year: Compassionate Hands of Yukon
  • Large Business of the Year: Walmart Neighborhood Market
  • Medium Business of the Year: First American Mortgage
  • Small Business of the Year: The Arrangement
  • Volunteer of the Year: Jim Schmaelzle
  • Ambassador of the Year: Homer Cobb

Yukon Chamber CEO Pam Shelton announced the evening as a success and said there were some great people nominated. Nominations came from the membership, with the chamber board selecting the finalists.


“The horse races were hilarious,” Shelton said. “The people that won the awards were totally surprised. I think we had more surprised people than we have had before.

“The gala committee went above and beyond, and the Mollie Spencer Farm was a great host.”

The description above and beyond also accurately described the award winners. Goodwin, along with Ernie Gomez, is credited with helping start the Leaders of Tomorrow program in 1999 and has been among its strongest supporters. At the time he helped start the program, Goodwin served as the Yukon Chamber president.

With a chuckle, he said his effort to aid education was probably some penance for the way he treated his high school teachers.

“I just think it’s important to try to get the young people started off on the right path and give them the opportunity to see the great things in the community and, hopefully, guide them toward supporting those in the future.”

During a short time in Yukon, T.J. Lowery Humanitarian of the Year recipient Dr. Kyle Henderson has made a notable impact not only in the community but in his profession.

“It’s been a great year so far,” he said, “Just recently, (I) got Oklahoma’s Young Optometric Physician of the Year. And then, coming here and winning this award. So, it’s off to a good start for me.”


Farnsworth said setting up a business in Yukon was what he had hoped for when he acquired Legacy Eyecare from Dr. David Brewer.

“I have enjoyed my time here,” he said. “It’s got that small town community feel and that’s what I was looking for. I was fortunate to take over a very successful practice. So, I’m in the right place that I should be.

“The support, the support from the chamber, even my patients and the whole community. It has been really a true blessing to be here.”

Homer Cobb receives the Chamber Ambassador of the Year award during the chamber gala held April 22. At right is Chamber director/CEO Pam Shelton. (Photo by Michael Pineda)

The gala was sold out, with more than 350 in attendance for the event. Prior to the awards, attendees bid on auction items, enjoyed libations and the music of saxophonist Michael Kleid.

Shelton said the wind did present some challenges. Ribbons to be used as table runners were placed on trees when the wind refused to cooperate. On the plus side, the gala was not as hot as last year. By the end of the evening, it had proven to be a successful celebration of the Yukon Chamber.

Since January, the chamber has added 30 members with no signs of slowing down. In addition, Shelton said people are flocking to chamber events, as Emory agreed.

“We continue to see more engagement by our business members, and the activity in our community has picked up because we are coming back out of COVID,” Emory said.