1-year-old Eden Huff is the face of Wayman Tisdale's legacy

The Wayman Tisdale Foundation is a local nonprofit that provides eligible individuals, like Eden, with unmet prosthetic needs.



Eden Huff is the first child recipient of services from the Wayman Tisdale Foundation, a local nonprofit that provides eligible individuals with unmet prosthetic needs. At 9 months she was fitted with a passive prosthetic, which her parents, Monique and Merton Huff Jr., say she uses now to gain balance and learn to walk.

The Huff family receives a devastating prenatal diagnosis

Merton Huff Jr. is both a pianist and a barber. His hands are his livelihood.

So he was more than devastated when he and his wife, Monique, found out during an ultrasound that their first child, a girl, would be born with no left arm.

They recall their initial disbelief as a tech measured and re-measured the baby’s limbs at 20 weeks gestation. They drove home from the doctor’s office in silence.

As reality sank in, the couple politely smiled through their own gender reveal party thrown by family and friends. “We weren’t ready to tell everyone yet (about the birth defect),” Merton says, “so we had to carry it.”

Over the next several months, the couple shared the news with those closest to them, including members of their church, Metropolitan Baptist, where Merton is the worship leader.

Merton says thinking about his unborn child’s condition initially made him angry. “I was asking God, ‘Why me?’ Everything I do, I do with my hands,” he says. “Everything you can think of, we thought.”

He recalls thinking about his daughter’s future and then attempting himself to do everyday tasks, like taking a shower or tying his shoes, with one hand behind his back.

With the encouragement of family, friends and even strangers through Facebook support groups, the Huffs eventually found strength through prayer and Scripture.

“God never promises us everything is going to go our way,” Merton says, “but we’ve been able to see God in the process.”

The late Tulsan Wayman Tisdale's foundation offers hope

Before their daughter’s birth, a friend at church told the Huffs about the locally based Wayman Tisdale Foundation, which identifies eligible individuals with unmet prosthetic needs and pays for cutting-edge prosthetic care.

The late Tulsan Wayman Tisdale, a Booker T. Washington, University of Oklahoma and professional basketball player and jazz musician, received a prosthetic leg after an amputation due to bone cancer. He created the foundation with his wife, Regina, before his death in 2009 at age 44 from complications of his radiation treatment.

Over the past eight years, the Tisdale Foundation has funded $47,500 in prosthetics for eight individuals across the state. The Oklahoma City-based Scott Sabolich Prosthetics and Research, which created a series of prosthetic legs for 6 foot, 9 inch Wayman — some of the tallest it has made — has created most of the devices for the foundation’s grantees.

Regina says the Tisdale Foundation started out providing scholarship money to students in Tulsa schools who were athletes and musicians like Wayman. But his amputation experience — and learning that prosthetic limbs can cost between $5,000 and $50,000 — caused him to shift the foundation’s mission.

“We were sitting in the hospital one day, and he said, ‘I want to change the foundation,’” Regina recalls. “I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘I want to give prosthetic devices to Oklahomans in need.’

“It’s just so Wayman,” she says. “It was just his heart to help individuals.”

Over the past eight years, the Tisdale Foundation has funded $47,500 in prosthetics for eight individuals across the state. The Oklahoma City-based Scott Sabolich Prosthetics and Research, which created a series of prosthetic legs for 6 foot, 9 inch Wayman — some of the tallest it has made — has created most of the devices for the foundation’s grantees.

“Wayman and Regina were fantastic to work with, and they’re very inspiring people,” says prosthetist Scott Sabolich, whose company donated the time and labor to create grantees’ prosthetics, while the foundation paid for materials.

“Wayman had health insurance and was able to cover a copay and deductible, but he realized that not everyone can do that,” Sabolich says. “Many people don’t even have health insurance.”

For those who receive one, an artificial limb can be life-changing. Regina recounts a single mother of three who went back to school after receiving her prosthesis. A 25-year-old man who lost his leg in a farming accident went back to work and got married after receiving his device.

These heartwarming stories are what keep Regina going. “Our mission is being fulfilled in the sense that these people are able to get on with their lives,” she says.

In April, the Tisdale Foundation helped an individual whose life was just beginning. It granted its first prosthetic for a child, Eden Huff.

Eden takes baby steps

Eden, whose left arm stops just above her elbow, also was born with hip dysplasia on her left side. To help correct her hip condition, she was in a harness for her first three months. Eden was only out of the harness for bath time, Merton says. “It was really difficult.”

At 9 months old, the Tisdale Foundation facilitated the fitting of her first prosthetic arm. The immovable device, called a passive prosthetic, is mostly for balance and secures with a strap across her body. If Eden wears it under long sleeves, one can hardly tell the arm isn’t real when she is sitting up.

Since children grow quickly, they require new prosthetics every few years. The foundation will fund one more device for Eden, likely around age 2, Merton says.

At 14 months old, Eden underwent hip surgery to add a metal plate to support her hip socket. As a result, she was in a cast for three months. As she grows, she will have to have other hip surgeries, just as she will have to have new prosthetics.

For now, therapists come to the Huffs’ home once a week for physical therapy, which involves helping Eden stand. She wears her prosthetic arm while standing between a set of parallel bars about 2 feet high. “She can take a few steps, but doctors don’t want us to rush her walking so she can build strength,” Merton says.

Coincidentally, before Eden’s diagnosis, Merton was already familiar with the Tisdale Foundation — as an entertainer. For the past four years, he’d been to hired provide music at its Jazzy Strokes fundraiser golf tournament, held each August.

Now he understands the foundation’s impact at a level few can.

“We’re so thankful for the Tisdales,” Monique adds. “I really don’t know if (Wayman) even thought about the extent to which he would impact people in the future.”

Wayman’s legacy lives on

Together the Tisdales had three daughters and a son. Only one of their six grandchildren, Bailey, met their Papa.

“Through cancer, through the amputation, he was still the guy I started dating at 16,” Regina says of Wayman, nine years after his death. She is speaking from the community room of the Wayman Tisdale Specialty Health Clinic, 591 E. 36th St N., which opened in 2015. This past June, Chouteau Elementary, also in north Tulsa, was renamed the Wayman Tisdale Fine Arts Academy.

Regina is clearly proud the community has helped keep her husband’s legacy alive.

Regina Tisdale founded the Wayman Tisdale Foundation with her late husband, Wayman Tisdale, inset. Along with addressing and providing prosthetic care to eligible individuals, the foundation recently launched the Wayman’s Way initiative, which promotes positive lifestyles and preventative health care with an emphasis on health and wellness, childhood health education and nutrition awareness.

Never a fan of public speaking, she says leading the foundation has been a challenge for her. “When we first got married, you couldn’t get two words out of my mouth,” she says. “Wayman pulled that out of me. When he passed away, I didn’t have a choice.”

Fundraising has been especially tough, Regina says, because she hates asking people for money. Now the foundation has staff who handle much of the development. “After he died, I literally wrote this in my journal: ‘Wayman, this is above my paygrade,’” Regina recalls. “‘It’s your fault because you gave me a life where I didn’t have to ask for anything.’”

Knowing the Tisdale Foundation will provide Eden with one more prosthesis removes some of the family’s financial burden, say the Huffs.

They say they will fund future prosthetics — if Eden wants to continue wearing them — with the help of insurance and through personal savings.

Overall, Monique says they are taking things “one day at a time” and focusing on showing Eden that she is special and important. It’s something they will also teach their second child, a son named Judah, who was born in July.

Of her daughter, Monique says, “We realized we can’t reduce her life to one missing arm because she would never experience all that she should.”



For more information on the Wayman Tisdale Foundation, visit waymantisdale.org.

 

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September 2019

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

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Cost: $15

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McKeon Center for Creativity
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Cost: $15, $20, $30, $35, $40, $45

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Cost: $15

Where:
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View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
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More information

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Cost: $15

Where:
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View map »


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Cost: Free

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Cost: TBA

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Cost: $15

Where:
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View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
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Cost: Free and open to the community

Where:
Woodland Hills Mall
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View map »


Telephone: 713-224-9115
Contact Name: Woodland Hills Mall

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Cost: Adults $5/Kids Free

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Tulsa, OK  74119
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Sponsor: Tulsa Greek Festival
Telephone: 918-583-2082
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Cost: TBA

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Cost: TBA

Where:
Mike Fretz Event Center
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Telephone: 918-663-5820
Contact Name: Morgan Sikes
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Cost: $25 - above

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View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
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More information

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621 East 4th Street
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View map »


Sponsor: OKEQ and Pat Hobbs
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Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
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View map »


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Telephone: 918-928-2663
Website »

More information

Show More...
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Cost: Free and open to the community

Where:
Woodland Hills Mall
7021 S Memorial Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Telephone: 713-224-9115
Contact Name: Woodland Hills Mall

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
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View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

Experience the sites, sounds and smells of Greece!  The best lil stop in OPA!homa - just off route 66. Live music, dancing, kids zone, Greek food and drink, delectable baked goods, Greek...

Cost: Adults $5/Kids Free

Where:
13th & Guthrie Ave
1222 S. Guthrie Ave

Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Greek Festival
Telephone: 918-583-2082
Contact Name: Tonya Boone
Website »

More information

Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »

More information

Get moved with Tulsa Ballet! Experience incredible works from the most in-demand choreographers in the world at Creations in Studio K. Tickets start at $25. Read all about the exciting pieces...

Cost: $25 - above

Where:
Tulsa Ballet - Studio K
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Contact Name: Dan Meagher
Website »

More information

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View map »


Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
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Contact Name: Linda Davis
Website »

More information

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Cost: 15-20

Where:
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110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
Website »

More information

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Cost: $75

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View map »


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Website »

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Cost: $10

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ONEOK FIELD
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Telephone: 405-234-7095
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Cost: 5K - $20; 1 mile - $10; Ages 5 and under – Free

Where:
ONEOK Field
201 N Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK, OK  74120
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Sponsor: St. Jude
Telephone: 915-841-9154
Contact Name: Adrian Ordonez
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Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Telephone: (405) 236-3100
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Woodland Hills Mall is excited to host Beauty Week, which is a unique way for the people in Tulsa to experience all the beauty that Woodland Hills Mall has to offer.  Participating retailers...

Cost: Free and open to the community

Where:
Woodland Hills Mall
7021 S Memorial Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74133
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Telephone: 713-224-9115
Contact Name: Woodland Hills Mall

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Celebrate the vital role eastern Oklahoma plays in the amazing Monarch butterfly migration! Join us for great activities and presentations including educational activities and crafts, tagging and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Turkey Mountain
6850 S Elwood Ave
Tulsa, OK  74132
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Sponsor: river parks
Telephone: 918-596-2008
Contact Name: Ryan Howell
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The Home Remodeling Showcase is the premier showcase of newly remodeled homes in Tulsa and the surrounding areas.  Presented by the Remodelers Council of the Home Builders Association of Greater...

Cost: 10

Where:
Spread throughout Metro Tulsa
, OK


Sponsor: Pella Windows of Oklahoma
Telephone: 918-663-5820
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Experience the sites, sounds and smells of Greece!  The best lil stop in OPA!homa - just off route 66. Live music, dancing, kids zone, Greek food and drink, delectable baked goods, Greek...

Cost: Adults $5/Kids Free

Where:
13th & Guthrie Ave
1222 S. Guthrie Ave

Tulsa, OK  74119
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Sponsor: Tulsa Greek Festival
Telephone: 918-583-2082
Contact Name: Tonya Boone
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Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Cost: FREE

Where:
Central Park Community Center
1500 South Main Street
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 918-259-8437
Contact Name: Central Park Community Center

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Join us for our second annual Food Truck Frenzy on September 21, from 4-8 p.m., and taste a variety of delicious cuisines from food trucks located in our riverfront backyard. Families can enjoy...

Cost: Adults $17.95, Children 3yrs-12yrs $13.95 Military and Seniors(62+) $13.95

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
300 Aquarium Dr
Jenks, OK  74037
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Telephone: 918-528-1507
Contact Name: Liz Medrano
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Fundraising concert featuring popular Christian rock band Sanctus Real benefiting Circle of Care's three programs: state-wide foster care, transitional living for single mothers with children...

Cost: 20.00

Where:
Venue 68
6910 S. 101st E. Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74134
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Sponsor: Circle of Care
Telephone: 405-215-1400
Contact Name: Sarah Steffes
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Benefiting the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Broken Arrow Cosplay contest and silent auction. Fan made 1966 Batmobile on display. Food provided by Charlies Chicken, Panera and drinks...

Cost: $10, 12 and under FREE

Where:
1400 W. Washington St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 918-406-9341
Contact Name: Sean Henry
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Circle of Care and popular Christian Rock band Sanctus Real are teaming up on September 21, 2019, to raise funds for Circle of Care’s three nonprofit programs. Band member...

Cost: Tickets start at $20

Where:
Asbury United Methodist Church's Venue 68
6910 S. 101 E. Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74133
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America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
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Get moved with Tulsa Ballet! Experience incredible works from the most in-demand choreographers in the world at Creations in Studio K. Tickets start at $25. Read all about the exciting pieces...

Cost: $25 - above

Where:
Tulsa Ballet - Studio K
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Contact Name: Dan Meagher
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Young and old alike will love the cherished story of Alice and her friends performed through original and exciting dance choreography! "Project Alice" is based on Lewis Carroll's...

Cost: 15-20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
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Young and old alike will love the cherished story of Alice and her friends performed through original and exciting dance choreography!"Project Alice" is based on Lewis Carroll's “Alice's...

Cost: 15-20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
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Whether you prefer Borg nanoprobes to Midichlorians, the Justice League to the Avengers, or Terminators to Daleks, don't let anyone force you into boldly going where no one has gone...

Cost: $8.00 ($4.00 for children under 12)

Where:
pH Community House
306 S Phoenix Ave
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Laughing Matter Improv
Contact Name: Jerry Henderson
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In our 4-week Beginning Fencing class, you'll learn about the history of Olympic fencing, the three fencing weapons – foil, saber and epee – and the general rules for each of the specific...

Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
3500 S Peoria
Tulsa, OK  74106
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Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-928-2663
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Where:
Veterans Park
1811 S Boulder Park Dr
Tulsa, OK
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Get wined and dined at the first annual Tulsa Beer & Wine Festival. Stroll through our landscape gardens and treat your taste buds to exquisite food pairings with local and national craft...

Cost: TBD

Where:
Gathering Place Great Lawn
2650 S. John Williams Way E.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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