Shortly after graduating from college, Sean Tuohey spent time coaching youth basketball in Northern Ireland. In a region where young people are separated by the neighborhoods they live in, the schools they attend, and even the sports they play, Sean recognized the unifying power of basketball, which was perceived as one of the few neutral sports there. In 2001, he and his brother Brendan established PeacePlayers International based on the belief that children who play together can learn to live together. Using the sport of basketball, PeacePlayers International, a 501(c)3, creates a safe and neutral space where young people can form deep personal bonds and lasting friendships. Through year round programming, more than 75,000 young people from the U.S., South Africa, Northern Ireland, Cyprus and the Middle East have developed friendships and mutual respect bridging ethnic, racial and cultural divides.
The 2016 Reflections of Hope Award honored PeacePlayers International, an organization committed to uniting communities in conflict through playing sports and changing perceptions.
The inaugural Oklahoma Standard award was presented to Katie Prior, a 16 year old Oklahoman who founded Youth Trumpet & Taps Corps, a service organization for high school trumpet players who sound Taps at military funerals. Katie exemplifies the Oklahoma Standard through her Acts of Service, Honor, and Kindness.
Katie has accomplished so many incredible things, perhaps the most inspirational though, is the work she completed on her Girl Scouts Gold Award Project. A girl with very strong moral and ethical values, this young woman saw injustice in how our country treats veterans during their funerals. After investigating this issue at length, Katie discovered that there were not enough people available to play live Taps at their funerals. Her goal was to train a group of volunteers to fill the gap and has ensured that veterans receive the recognition and respect they deserve. Perhaps what’s even more impressive is that despite meeting all of the criteria for the Gold Award, Katie has not stopped her dedication to the program. In fact, she started her own nonprofit organization, Youth Trumpet & Taps Corps and continues to train volunteers in several states across the country. Katie embodies the Oklahoma Standard by willingly giving her time to not only play live taps at veterans’ funerals, but she also trains others to do the same.