Young adults need less sodium, saturated fats and added sugars

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
06/13/2018 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Establishing healthy eating patterns tailored to personal, cultural and traditional preferences that are low in sodium and saturated fat is essential to a balanced diet for young adults between the ages of 20 and 35, Cherokee Nation Clinical Dietitian Tonya Swim said.

“All the food and beverage choices a person makes matters,” Swim said. “For most healthy individuals a balanced diet should have a variety of vegetables and whole fruit, low-fat or fat-free diary, half of their grains from whole grain sources, a variety of protein choices, including lean meats, seafood and vegetable sources.”

Swim said that while a single healthy eating pattern will not fit everyone, all foods high in saturated fat, sodium and added sugar should be limited. She recommends individuals inspect their food’s nutrition facts label when shopping, especially for those who may buy frozen foods such as microwavable meals.

“Most meals like this lack in fruits and vegetables, so adding a whole piece of fruit and a steamed bag of frozen veggies can help to meet a person’s daily fruit and vegetable needs. This is also a great way to add in extra vitamins, minerals and fiber,” she said.

A good method of comparing the nutritional values of two or more food items is to examine the label’s percent of daily value, Swim said. “Search for items with the lowest amount of saturated fat and sodium and the highest amount of fiber. Five percent daily value or less of a nutrient per serving is low, and 20 percent daily value or more of a nutrient per serving is high. One nutrient that we want to strive to get more of is fiber, so this nutrient on the nutrition facts label should be as close to 20 percent daily value as possible.”
In addition to establishing healthy food patterns focused on personal and cultural preferences, young adults ages 20 to 35 should be mindful of their food’s nutrition facts label, Cherokee Nation Clinical Dietitian Tonya Swim said. When comparing the nutritional value of two or more food items, Swim said to examine the nutrition facts label’s daily value percentages. Five percent of a nutrient or less is low, while 20 percent or more is high. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
In addition to establishing healthy food patterns focused on personal and cultural preferences, young adults ages 20 to 35 should be mindful of their food’s nutrition facts label, Cherokee Nation Clinical Dietitian Tonya Swim said. When comparing the nutritional value of two or more food items, Swim said to examine the nutrition facts label’s daily value percentages. Five percent of a nutrient or less is low, while 20 percent or more is high. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Better weather can bring tick illnesses

BY STAFF REPORTS
06/11/2018 09:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – People tend to spend more time outdoors in warmer weather. But it’s important to remember that warmer weather brings ticks and the illnesses they can carry.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Oklahoma ranks among the states with the highest ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia rates, and May through August is the stretch of months when ticks are most active.

Ehrlichiosis

The lone star tick is the primary carrier of ehrlichiosis in the United States. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, rash and muscle aches. Usually these symptoms occur within one to two weeks following a tick bite.

Ehrlichiosis can be fatal if not treated correctly. The estimated fatality rate is 1.8 percent. Patients who are treated early may recover quickly on outpatient medication, while those who experience a more severe course may require intravenous antibiotics, prolonged hospitalization or intensive care.
Lone lone star ticks can carry the tick-borne illnesses ehrlichiosis and tularemia, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Oklahoma ranks among the states with the highest ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia rates, according to the CDC. POPULAR SCIENCE
Lone lone star ticks can carry the tick-borne illnesses ehrlichiosis and tularemia, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Oklahoma ranks among the states with the highest ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia rates, according to the CDC. POPULAR SCIENCE

Oklahoma facing health problems despite smoking decrease

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
06/09/2018 02:00 PM
TULSA (AP) – Oklahoma has high rates of death from heart disease, stroke, cancer and respiratory disease despite a decrease in smoking, according to a new report.

Less than 20 percent of Oklahoma adults smoke, down from 25 percent a decade ago, according to the State of the State’s Health Report that was released Monday, The Tulsa World reported . The teen smoking rate was 13 percent in 2015, down from about a third of teens smoking in 2005.

However, the state still has a high rate of health issues tied with smoking, such as lung cancer and heart disease, the report found.

The effects of smoking aren’t automatically reversed by quitting, said Leanne Stephens, a spokeswoman for the Tulsa Health Department. She said that according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, cancer risks can be cut in half within five years of quitting and the risk of a stroke could be reduced to that of a nonsmoker within two to five years.

Increasing rates of obesity may also be contributing to high rates of heart disease, the report said. The state has seen its obesity rate more than double since the 1990s, the report found.
https://www.facebook.com/CASA-of-Cherokee-Country-184365501631027/

Claremore Indian Hospital to host VA benefits fair

BY STAFF REPORTS
06/07/2018 04:00 PM
CLAREMORE – The Claremore Indian Hospital will sponsor a Veterans Affairs Enrollment Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 26.

Hospital officials said the fair is to assist their Native American veteran patients in applying for eligibility for health care services through the VA.

“We will have Claremore Indian Hospital benefit coordinators and representatives from the VA to assist with the application processes,” Sheila Dishno, Claremore Indian Hospital patient benefit coordinator, said. “We will also have Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs here to help with those that need help filing a service claim. Please make plans to attend and bring your financial information (income and resource information) and DD-214 (military discharge) papers.”

If already enrolled, call 918-342-6240, 918-342-6511 or 918-342-6559 so a hospital official can update your file.

Claremore Indian Hospital to host insurance fair

BY STAFF REPORTS
06/03/2018 04:00 PM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Oklahoma will be at the Claremore Indian Hospital on June 11 to assist patients with signing up for free to low-cost health insurance.

The insurance company will be in Conference Room 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to help people sign up for health insurance.

Sheila Dishno, patient benefit coordinator at the hospital, said people who attend the fair should bring their Social Security cards, pay stubs, W-2 forms or wage and tax statements, policy numbers for any current health insurance and information about any health insurance they or their families could get from an employer.

The hospital is located at 101 S. Moore Ave. For more information, call 918-342-6240, 918-342-6559 or 918-342-6511.
http://cherokeepublichealth.org/

Cherokee Nation lauded for hepatitis C elimination effort

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
05/28/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH (AP) – Recovering addict Judith Anderson figures if she hadn’t entered a program that caught and treated the hepatitis C she contracted after years of intravenous drug use, she wouldn’t be alive to convince others to get checked out.

The 74-year-old resident of Sallisaw said the potentially fatal liver disease sapped her of energy and “any desire to go anywhere or do anything.”

“It was like living with a death sentence,” she said of the infection that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in 2016 killed more people than HIV and tuberculosis combined. “You’re just tired all the time.”

But things changed for Anderson, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, because she took advantage of the tribe’s aggressive program to test for and treat hepatitis C. Federal officials say it could serve as a national model in the fight against the infection.

The CN, the second-largest tribe in the U.S. after the Navajo Nation, started the program three years ago looking to screen 80,000 of its 350,000 citizens, mainly targeting those 20 to 65 because of their statistically higher chances of having the disease. More than half of the target group has been screened, with more than 1,300 citizens testing positive, and a 90 percent cure rate among those who have started treatment, the tribe says.

Children 9-12, teens must establish diets that provide for development

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
05/25/2018 08:30 AM
SALINA – Proper diets reflecting the onset of puberty and growth for children ages 9-12 and teenagers should be a critical focus for parents, said Cherokee Nation Clinical Dietitian Tonya Swim.

“Encouraging healthy choices to help provide adequate energy for growth and development should be the focus,” Swim said. “There is a change that not getting adequate nutrients can result in deficiencies, which could lead to loss of height, osteoporosis and delayed sexual maturation.”

Swim recommends establishing healthy habits early for children, including breakfast. “Having a healthy breakfast enhances brain function related to memory, testing and school attendance. Having a high-fiber breakfast with protein, fruit and a low-fat dairy is a great way to start the day off. An example of this could be a whole-grain English muffin with an egg patty prepared using a cooking spray and sliced avocado – the perfect quick breakfast sandwich.”

As children mature into teenagers, Swim said they need diets that provide proper nutrients and fuel. “Many teens will double their weight and can add up to 20 percent in height, and they need to make sure and get enough nutrients like calcium to support healthy bone growth. Teens will continue to have growth spurts, and it’s important for them to remember that their body needs food to help fuel healthy growth, especially if they are an athlete. But food for fuel is also important for those active with music or art. Their brains are working to hardwire their ability to process the skills needed for all activities.”

Parent should keep taste and appearance in mind when preparing meals, Swim said, as they seem to be important factors to teens. “Health and energy needs don’t matter so much to (teens), so as parents we need to provide those healthy choices in a way that is pleasing to eat and look at.”

Sequoyah High School Summer Food Program begins May 29

BY STAFF REPORTS
05/22/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Sequoyah High School is once again participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Summer Food Program. It will run May 29 through June 28, Monday through Thursday, at the SHS cafeteria.

The program provides nutritious meals at no charge to children during summer vacation.

Children aged 18 and under regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability are eligible to receive meals. Breakfast will be served from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and lunch will be from noon to 1 p.m. Adults may eat breakfast for $2.25 and lunch for $4.

The cafeteria is at 17091 S. Muskogee Ave. For more information, call 918-453-5190.

CN dietitian receives ‘Outstanding Dietitian of the Year’ award

BY STAFF REPORTS
04/27/2018 04:00 PM
TULSA – Cherokee Nation clinical dietitian Tonya Swim was awarded “Outstanding Dietitian of the Year for Outstanding Career of Contributions to the Dietetics Profession” on April 19 at the Oklahoma Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic Convention.

Swim, who works at the A-Mo Health Center in Salina, is involved with the OkAND organization as public relations and communication chairwoman and has helped increase its social media presence by promoting registered dietitians as nutrition experts and renewing a partnership with Oklahoma City Fox News by coordinating weekly cooking segments.

She also served as chairwoman for the 2018 OkAND convention and chaired the event in 2016. As chairwoman, she worked to provide Oklahoma’s registered dietitians and dietetic technicians with opportunities for continuing education.

“It was an honor and I am humbled to have received this award. I give most of the credit to the amazing group of dietitians in our state for helping my ideas become reality and to the wonderful company I work for in allowing me to grow as a dietician. I am so blessed with a supportive family who push me to be the best I can. Thank you to everyone,” Swim said.
Cherokee Nation clinical dietitian Tonya Swim holds her “Outstanding Dietitian of the Year for Outstanding Career of Contributions to the Dietetics Profession” award from the Oklahoma Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic Convention. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation clinical dietitian Tonya Swim holds her “Outstanding Dietitian of the Year for Outstanding Career of Contributions to the Dietetics Profession” award from the Oklahoma Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic Convention. COURTESY

Culture

‘Remember the Removal’ cyclists find strength, develop leadership skills
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
06/20/2018 04:00 PM
WAYNESVILLE, Mo. – Autumn Lawless trained for the challenges she faced on June 15 as she fought the heat and hills of the Ozarks in south-central Missouri.

The 21-year-old from Porum, Oklahoma, said the training the 10 Cherokee Nation “Remember the Removal” cyclists endured from January to May prepared them for the rigors of riding for three weeks through seven states.

“Training was hard, but it was hard for a reason. We were all ready, and we’ve made it this far because of our training,” she said.

She said through the “RTR” program, which started in 1984 for youth leadership, she’s gained more courage and knows “she can do anything.”

“I saw a lot of our riders and how this ride changed them and how strong they were. They were more confident, they were better leaders, and I wanted to be a better leader. I know I can push myself...now. This ride has given me perseverance,” Lawless said. “The ride isn’t just what you see in videos. It’s not just people cheering you on and clapping for you. It’s the time you spend with your teammates on the road motivating each other to get up another hill or just checking on each other. It really is a family, and there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into this ride.”

Ahli-sha Stephens, 34, of Cherokee, North Carolina, said the main reason she wanted to ride was to experience some of the hardships her ancestors endured and “to be able to go where they had been and walk where they walked.”

“It’s something you can tell someone about and they won’t understand it unless they’ve been there and felt it for themselves,” she said.

Walking the now-preserved trails that Cherokee people walked 180 years ago was especially moving for her, she said. “It’s humbling knowing you walked where they walked, and you’re walking in their footsteps and are seeing things that they saw. It wasn’t easy, and I can’t imagine doing it the way they did it day after day.”

Stephens added that riding the trail with other Cherokees created a bond that gets stronger daily. “We rely on each other. We help each other, and we’re there for each other. I think if we didn’t have each other’s backs, it would make this journey a whole lot harder.”

Stephens said she’s also learned to be more patient and wants to use her abilities to help others and to “lead, listen and be a team player.”

“Overall, I think I will be more knowledgeable about who our people were, what they did and what they went through, what they faced. I think I will just be a better person all around,” she said.

Daulton Cochran, 21, of Bell, Oklahoma, said he wanted to ride to “connect” with his tribe better.
“I had a lot of friends who did the ride, and it seemed like it changed a lot of people afterwards, and I craved that, I guess,” he said.

Because of the constant strain of riding for two weeks, he said he couldn’t recall the exact spot that moved him the most, but it was a place in Tennessee where his Cherokee ancestors camped.

“I guess it was the idea of campsites really being gravesites. It really gets to you to see stuff like that,” he said.

He added that he’s appreciated taking on the riding challenge with his teammates. “The fellowship has been great. We all connect. We all hang out. It’s just a good thing. We’re a family now.”

Seth Ledford, 18, of Cherokee North Carolina, said he saw how the ride was a “life-changing” experience for others and wanted to experience it.

“It is a once-in-lifetime experience, and it will change you for the better. That’s what I heard about the ride,” he said. “So far the ride has been good. It has been tough at times, and emotional and physical. We’ve had a lot of tough times, but we make up and still like each other.”

He said he would take away leadership skills and bonds he’s developed with fellow riders. He also has learned to work within a team. “When I wrestle (in high school) I’m by myself in everything. This is really helping me with my teamwork.”

Education

Young named Tahlequah Public School District Teacher of the Year
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
06/20/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation citizen Crystal Young on May 4 was named the Tahlequah Public School District Teacher of the Year for the 2017-18 school year. She is a third grade teacher at Cherokee Elementary.

Young was first awarded Cherokee Elementary Teacher of the Year in April, which put her in the running for the district award.

“It’s just super humbling, I think, when you get something like that, that you know your peers chose you,” she said.

In the fall, Young will begin her seventh year at Cherokee Elementary and plans to teach fifth grade. Before joining Cherokee Elementary, she taught two years at the tribe’s Head Start. However, teaching wasn’t her first desire. She said she initially wanted to become a lawyer and work in juvenile justice.

“Growing up, we lived in poverty. My dad struggled with addiction and things like that. So some of these students that I see, I was right there. I know exactly what they’re going through, and I wanted to show kids that hard work will get you where you need to be, and perseverance and work ethic and all those attributes, honesty, integrity, those things matter,” she said.

While attending college, she realized she worked well with children and changed her career path from lawyer to educator.

Aside from teaching, Young is the Cherokee language bowl sponsor and Together Raising Awareness for Indian Life sponsor for Cherokee Elementary. She said she exposes her students to Cherokee culture and to diabetes awareness through the TRAIL’s 12-week curriculum.

“When they’re an adult, this is going to help them. I’m hoping that we’re setting a good foundation for them to be not only good readers, good writers, good mathematicians but just healthy, good individuals,” Young said.

She said there are struggles with being a teacher and that she was one of the many teachers who rallied at Oklahoma City in April for more education funding. She said she believes it’s important to show students that when faced with adversity sometimes not going with what has always been done is acceptable.

“It’s OK to be willing to stand up for what you feel like is right and standing together and being able to bond,” Young said.

She said the rewards and struggles of being a teacher go hand in hand when coming in every day and giving her best while at the same time knowing so many kids rely on her.

“I feel like everything I’ve done or wanted to do has been, at the root of it, has been I wanted to help people. I guess just to encourage people and motivate people to be the best they can be,” she said.

Winning the district award puts Young in the running for Oklahoma State Teacher of the Year, which will be announced in October at the Tulsa State Fair.

Council

Gaming compact amended to add ‘ball-and-dice’ gaming
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
06/13/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Tribal Councilors on June 11 unanimously passed a gaming compact supplement with Oklahoma to allow Cherokee Nation’s casinos to begin offering Las Vegas-style table games such as craps and roulette.

The resolution follows Gov. Mary Fallin signing House Bill 3375 into law on April 1o, making the state’s tribal casinos eligible to begin offering “ball-and-dice” games as soon as Aug. 2.

Tribal Councilor Mike Shambaugh said during a May 31 Rules Committee meeting that passing the resolution was important.

“I think we have been progressive as a council in many different ways in how we support gaming. This could be a good way for more revenue, obviously. If other casinos are going to be doing it, we need to stay progressive. We need to do what it takes to be the best casino and give our casinos the best opportunity to succeed. I think this is a good step forward for doing this especially if the state is going to allow it. We need to take advantage of it,” he said.

Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission Director Jamie Hummingbird also said during the Rules Committee meeting that the CNGC has been working on regulations for the new gaming since April. He said the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa would be the first Cherokee Casino property to offer “ball-and-dice” games and that the CNGC is working with casino operations on “where and when” the other casino properties would begin featuring the games.

Legislators on June 11 also authorized placing 39.2 acres of land in southern Delaware County into trust. The acreage, known as Beck’s Mill “has a rich history as a trading post with a grain mill being operated in the 1800s,” the resolution states. The property is located along Flint Creek just north of Highway 412.

Legislators also approved a resolution “agreeing to choice of law and venue and authorizing a waiver of sovereign immunity” so that the Cherokee Immersion Charter School can enter into a software agreement with Municipal Accounting Systems Inc. The agreement will allow the school to submit certain financial information to state officials in the required Oklahoma Cost Accounting System.

Tribal Councilors also increased the tribe’s fiscal year 2018 comprehensive operating budget by $1.8 million for a total budget authority of $694.9 million. The changes consisted of a decrease in the Indian Health Service Self-Governance Health budget by $93,962 and increases in the General Fund, Enterprise, Department of Interior – Self-Governance and Federal “other” budgets.

In other business, legislators:

• Authorized a donation of a modular office building to Project A Association in Muskogee County, and

• Authorized a grant application to the Department of Health and Humans Services, Administration for Children and Families, the Office of Child Care for Tribal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program.

Health

Cherokee stays positive amid Hodgkin lymphoma battle
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
04/25/2018 09:30 AM
SALLISAW – When Cherokee Nation citizen Shacotah Sanders lost his hair after undergoing chemotherapy for Stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma last year, his mother, Tammie Simms, shaved her head in solidarity.

“Chemotherapy is a really long process. It’s painful. It’s stressful. It’s really emotional because I lost all my hair,” Sanders said. “That was something I was really scared of right there, but the main thing that keeps me going is my mom. She’s like the only one that really keeps me going.”

This familial support is once more a shoulder for Sanders to lie on because while his hair has grown back, so too have the cancerous spots in his neck. It is a possibility that he had accepted after going into remission in October.

“I had prepared myself for it because there’s always that possibility that it could come back,” Sanders said. “Every three months I have a checkup, a PET scan, and we decided to do one in early March this year. We did it, waited about two weeks to get the results. We went back to my oncologist doctor, and he said that it came back, but it wasn’t as big as last time and not as bad. He said it was in the same spot and at the same stage, Stage 2.”

Sanders began undergoing 22 rounds of radiation on April 3 to again battle the cancerous disease, which starts in the white blood cells called lymphocytes. It causes uncontrollable cell reproduction that can potentially invade other tissues throughout the body and disrupt normal tissue function, according to the American Cancer Society.

Sanders travels from Sallisaw to Tahlequah’s Northeast Oklahoma Cancer Center five days a week for his radiation sessions and will have checkups every three to six months after the treatments.

“The radiation, they take you to a back room with a really big machine and you just lay on it, like a flat surface, and then they put a mesh mask over your face and tilt your head back so they can get to the spots where the cancer is. There’s no needles involved or anything. It’s just a big machine shooting radiation down on your body,” he said.

The first time Sanders noticed something amiss with his health was in March 2017.

“Every time I went running I noticed my breathing was off quite a bit, so I was just feeling around on my neck and I found these lumps on the right side of my neck, below my jaw. It was just affecting my breathing a lot, so I went to the doctor and had them check it out,” he said.

After a PET scan and surgery, doctors removed two of Sanders’ lymph nodes.

“They sent them off to be tested and they came back cancerous. They told me it was Stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma and we started treatment last year in April,” Sanders said.

Doctors prescribed Sanders four rounds of chemotherapy at Warren Clinic Medical Oncology in Tahlequah.

“I was supposed to do four, but three rounds did it,” Sanders said. “During that time, I still went to work, and I didn’t feel good at all going to work, but I still worked my eight hours a day. I still went to work, put a smile on my face. I had a really good attitude about it.”

Though the cancer has returned and forced Sanders to put classes at Carl Albert State College on hold while continuing to work, he remains positive and recommends anyone going through a diagnosis to do the same. “Just have a positive attitude about everything. Surround yourself with positive things, people, family and friends,” he said.

Sanders has a GoFundMe account to help with expenses. To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/hodgkins-lymphoma-fight.

Symptoms and Info

Possible symptoms of Hodgkin ymphoma include fever, drenching night sweats and weight loss constituting at least 10 percent of a person’s body weight over the course of six months, according to the American Cancer Society. For more information, visit www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkin-lymphoma.html.

Opinion

OPINION: Addressing food insecurity for veterans in northeast Oklahoma
BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Principal Chief
06/01/2018 12:00 PM
The Cherokee Nation is steadfastly committed to our military veterans, those men and women who have sacrificed so much for our tribe, our country and our collective freedoms. Recently, we established a formal partnership with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma to help ensure these real-life heroes do not suffer from hunger and food instability. Nobody in Oklahoma, especially a military veteran, should go hungry.

This collaboration, which is the first time a tribal government has been involved with this local food bank program, means regular access to healthy and nutritious foods, and that will translate to better and fuller lives. It is a blessing that we are able to help, and it is the least we can do for those who have done so much for us.

This endeavor will create a quarterly mobile food pantry at the CN Veterans Center. Fresh produce, bakery items and nonperishable food items are available for about 125 veterans or widows of veterans through the collaboration. The first time we hosted the food pantry in late May, we distributed more than 10,000 pounds of food. The tribe will continue to help identify veterans in need, as well as provide volunteers to help staff the mobile pantry.

Today, the CN Veterans Center offers a wide array of activities for veterans. It serves as a place to sign up for benefits, play bingo or attend other activities, and now we have added the food pantry. It is just one more way we can meet the needs of our people.

The CN continues to look for ways to honor and serve our veteran warriors, and this partnership with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma is another avenue to reach those in need. Food insecurity is a very real issue for families in northeast Oklahoma, and almost 20 percent of the households the Food Bank serves has a military veteran who resides there and utilizes the program. Additionally, national studies show veterans are affected more by hunger and food insecurity than the general population. Many struggle to put food on the table because of a myriad of issues, from employability after service to mental health and related trauma or an unwillingness to seek help.

Collaborating with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma means we are increasing and expanding its coverage and furthering its mission. Just like CN, the food bank wants to provide for our veterans so that they have what they need to prosper.

The CN also offers a food distribution program, which some veterans may also qualify for. For more information on the CN Veterans Center and food pantry, call 918-772-4166.

People

4-year-old Keys jumps into motocross
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
06/12/2018 08:30 AM
PARK HILL – Cherokee Nation citizen Cooper Keys is a 4-year-old with a passion for motocross. Born in 2013, Cooper began riding his 2004 Yamaha PW50 in February after finding tri-cycling slow and monotonous.

With half a dozen races under his belt on the peewee dirt track at Jandebeur’s Motor Sports Park in Okmulgee, he’s notched five third-place finishes and one second-place finish.

Cooper competes in the 50cc shaft drive/air cooled and 50cc beginner divisions and is the only 4-year-old racing against 5-to 7-year-olds.

“We got him a starter balance bike when he was about a year and a half old,” CN citizen and Cooper’s mother Emily Keys said. “Balance bikes don’t have pedals or training wheels, so he just kind of pushed himself around until he eventually got to where he could ride around without using his feet.”

Emily said Cooper soon began riding down hills, balancing perfectly on the bike that was designed for pushing around the yard.

“When he outgrew the balance bike, we got him a bicycle that resembled a dirt bike, which he mastered in no time,” she said. It was around then that Emily and her husband, Justin, began thinking that Cooper’s abilities” weren’t “normal.” Cooper’s agility was only surpassed by his constant request for a real (motorized) dirt bike,” she said.

“He was just gung-ho, and would not be quiet about it. My husband had a mini-bike when he was little but only rode it around the field, so we really knew nothing about dirt bikes or the sport,” Emily said.

She added that it was eventually her parents who sprang for Cooper’s first dirt bike, as a Christmas present. She said she thought he would just want to ride around the field with it. But that wasn’t the case. Cooper wanted to ride all the time.

“We were concerned about him racing at such a young age, so we just started at the bottom, learning everything we could on teaching Cooper how to ride safe and smart. We purchased every piece of safety gear a kid could have. Now the poor (child) looks like (a) mix between an astronaut and the Terminator when he’s all suited up to go,” Emily said. “He’s had some crashes but that hasn’t deterred him in the least.”

Cooper’s father and CN citizen Justin Keys said Cooper’s can-do attitude was only one of the qualities he noticed.

“It makes me really proud that he has such good sportsmanship and how he strives to make himself better. I mean he’s pushing himself more than anybody. He gets out there with a ride, ride, ride attitude and he never gives up. More than once, I’ve seen him fall down, get up and want to go again. You can’t teach that.”

“We don’t want him hurt, and it is scary putting him on such a fast bike, but we’ve done all we can,’ Emily said. “We continue to teach him about safety, and we can’t let our fears get in the way of something he’s that passionate about.”
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