To celebrate National Tourism Week, the OKC Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) hosted the 2nd Annual Hometown Heroes Luncheon at the Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum on May 10. More than 120 members of the Oklahoma City tourism and hospitality industry gathered to honor seven individuals and one visitor attraction for their contributions to tourism.

"We always enjoy bringing the Oklahoma City tourism and hospitality industry together to celebrate our accomplishments," said Mike Carrier, CVB president. "Our industry has become what it is today from the hard work and commitment of the more than 35,000 people employed in hospitality and tourism in Oklahoma County."

Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb; Sandy Pantlik, director of the Travel Promotion Division of the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department; and Rhonda Hooper, chair of the CVB Commission were in attendance to show their appreciation to the CVB and the Oklahoma City tourism industry.

2011 Hometown Heroes include:

Scot Akins, Co-Chair and Local Tournament Committee Metropolis of Denver's 2011 Greek Orthodox Youth Association Basketball Tournament (GOYA)

The Metropolis of Denver consists of 12 states in the central U.S. who come together in faith and fellowship for the GOYA Basketball Tournament each year in Oklahoma City. The St. George Greek Orthodox Church of Oklahoma City coordinates the event, bringing in more than 1,000 room nights.

Ron Radigonda, ASA/USA Softball & Tim Brassfield, Oklahoma City All Sports Association NCAA Women's College World Series (WCWS)

With an economic impact of more than $13 million and 10,000 to 12,000 room nights each year, the WCWS is one of Oklahoma City's most significant sporting events - helping the WCWS and Oklahoma City receive national attention through daily ESPN broadcasts. Ron Radigonda, president of ASA/USA Softball and Tim Brassfield, executive director of the Oklahoma City All Sports Association partner each year to keep the WCWS in Oklahoma City.

Archie Randall, Head Wrestling Coach - Oklahoma City University USA Wrestling Girls Folkstyle National Championship

The USA Wrestling Girls Folkstyle National Championship began in Oklahoma City in 2007 and draws more than 3,400 attendees each year as 6 to 18-year-old athletes compete for National Champion and All-American titles. The staff at Oklahoma City University, lead by head wrestling coach Archie Randall, work with USA Wrestling to bring this event and other major events, such as the USA World Team Trials this June, to Oklahoma City.

Mickey Clagg, Chair - Oklahoma Regional Planning Committee and Harold Holley, Oklahoma Regional Director U.S. FIRST Robotics

Oklahoma FIRST is dedicated to inspiring young peoples' interest in science and technology. FIRST stands for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology." Through its programs, students team with local engineers, professors and business people to solve real world engineering challenges. After a host city recommendation from Mickey Clagg and Harold Holley, Oklahoma City has hosted the U.S. FIRST competition for many years.

Dan Provo, Host Committee Chair American Association for State and Local History (AASLH)

The annual meeting for AASLH brings together history, museum and cultural site staff, board members and volunteers from across the nation and some foreign countries. Collaboration among the Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma Museums Association and the Oklahoma State Library, along with many local museums, helped make this event a reality and accounted for 1,500 room nights. Dan Provo, director of the Oklahoma History Center, served as host committee chair for the AASLH Annual Meeting.

Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Gardens New Exhibits in 2010-2011

The Oklahoma City Zoo has been a staple in the Oklahoma City tourism market for more than 100 years. In 2010, the Children's Zoo debuted giving children an area where they can explore, touch and immerse themselves in a natural environment. This April, the Gambulos ZooZeum opened as the only museum of its kind in the country where the public can experience zoo memories from the past 100 years. The new $13 million, Asian-themed elephant habitat opened in early March 2011. This exhibit spans 9.5 acres making it one of the largest elephant zoo exhibits in the country and welcomed the OKC Zoo's newest resident, Malee, the first elephant birth in the zoo's history. Assistant Director Alan Varsik accepted the award on behalf of the Oklahoma City Zoo.

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