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Lissa Diaz

Bethel University will hold its third annual Give Back Gala on July 17, 2020, at 5:30 p.m., as a virtual event and simulcast, with JC Watts as the keynote speaker. Watts – a former congressman, ordained minister, CNN contributor and professional athlete – is a visionary conservative leader whose concerns encompass the health and welfare of people around the world.

Due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, the Give Back Gala has been converted to a virtual event, with custom pre-event content for our online audience, including student and alumni stories and a live master of ceremonies. Watts will be speaking from campus to a small, in-person audience, which will be simulcast for virtual viewers.

The purpose of the evening is to raise money for the Bethel Fund, which supports student scholarships and areas of greatest need. Last year’s Gala raised more than $220,000.

Virtual Tickets are available online for $50 (suggested donation)* with $45 of every ticket counting as a tax-deductible gift to Bethel University. The public is invited to register to attend by July 8 to receive a premium Gala pack, mailed to enjoy during the event.

*We understand many in the community have been impacted financially by the COVID-19 crisis. Because we do not want cost to be a barrier to attendance, we have underwriting to assist with ticket cost. Registrants should indicate their selection when they sign up. Registration is required.

More about J.C. Watts:

In February 2016, the Hon. J.C. Watts, Jr., was appointed president and CEO of Feed the Children—a global hunger relief organization headquartered in Oklahoma. He is also chairman of J.C. Watts Companies, a multi-industry holding company headquartered in Washington, D.C., with operations in Texas and Oklahoma. Watts has built a diverse business organization that includes Mustang Equipment (John Deere dealerships in Texas), J.C. Watts Holdings, and Watts Partners, a government and public affairs consulting company. Watts serves on the board of directors of Dillard’s Department Stores and as chairman of The Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections. He is a two-time author with his most recent book, “Dig Deep: 7 Truths to Finding the Strength Within,” published in early 2016. In addition, Watts is a frequent guest on national and international news shows and has been widely quoted in major newspaper articles, both in the United States and abroad.

Watts was elected to the U.S. Congress from the fourth district of Oklahoma in 1994. In 1998, he was elected by his peers to serve as chairman of the Republican Conference, the fourth-ranking leadership position in the majority party in the U.S. House of Representatives. Watts served for eight years on the House Armed Services Committee. He authored legislation to create and then he later served on the House Select Committee on Homeland Security. He also served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as well as the House Banking Committee. He led two congressional trade missions to Africa. He co-authored the American Community Renewal and New Markets Act, which former President William Clinton signed into law in 2000. He was the author of former President George W. Bush’s faith-based initiative, the Community Solutions Act of 2001. He also developed legislation with Congressman John Lewis to establish the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which became a reality when it opened in September 2016.

Watts was born in Eufaula, Okla. He graduated from Eufaula High School in 1976 and attended the University of Oklahoma until his graduation in 1981. Watts earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. While at the University of Oklahoma, Watts quarterbacked for the Sooners, leading them to two consecutive Big Eight Championships and Orange Bowl victories. He was voted the “Most Valuable Player” in the 1980 and 1981 Orange Bowls. From 1981 to 1986, he started for Ottawa and Toronto in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and was voted the “Most Valuable Player” of the Grey Cup, the CFL’s Super Bowl, his rookie season. After returning to Oklahoma, Watts served as a youth minister at Sunnylane Baptist Church in Del City, Okla., from January 1987 until December 1994, when he became associate pastor.

In 1990, he was elected to the Oklahoma State Corporation Commission (the state agency that regulates public utilities and the oil and gas industry) and became chairman before running for Congress in 1994.

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