NORMAN — The idea was simple. Brent Sykes wanted to give his daughter a tangible way to remember her mother, Traci, who died in a 2007 car accident.
Brent Sykes, a Chickasaw citizen, decided to establish the Traci R. Sykes Foundation. Today, his daughter Paige, 8, is bringing joy, peace, happiness and educational opportunities to others through foundation gifts in her mother’s name.
“When she was about 5, she began talking about the meaning of the foundation,” Brent said. “We would discuss where she would like to donate, and ultimately I would let her decide.”
This year, Paige took a trip to Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum in Seminole and was inspired to give back to the museum with an admission scholarship.
Her dad and stepmother Amanda were thrilled with her choice.
“The donation will help children who can’t afford to pay for admission,” Brent said. “Traci worked with kids and loved kids and we were happy to tap into that.”
Last month, Paige was recognized for her contributions. She received the first-ever Youth Philanthropy Award from the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum. Paige was honored during an October benefit banquet at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
“We stressed to her that the evening was not about being recognized, but about doing the right thing for people,” Brent said.
Paige’s recognition gala also honored other friends and supporters of the museum, including Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis and his wife, Ann, who were the recipients of the museum’s bi-annual Jasmine Award.
Several organizations and individuals also were recognized for their support of the museum.
The Chickasaw Nation was well represented at the award ceremony, with Gov. Bill Anoatubby among the guests. Former Oklahoma Gov. George Nigh served as master of ceremonies for the evening.
Paige had the opportunity to meet children’s museum co-founders Jasmine Moran and her husband, Melvin, at the gala. When the couple asked the elementary student about her favorite museum attraction, she answered “the grocery store.”
The Sykes family plans to include their 1-year-old triplets in foundation decisions in the coming years. The Sykes’ encourage Paige to share her stories with her younger siblings.
Past foundation recipients include in-kind donations to the Norman (OK) Animal Shelter and a grant to the Norman Public School Foundation.
The Sykes family lives in Norman where Paige is student at Truman Elementary.
For more information about the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum, visit www.jasminemoran.com.
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