Governor Kevin Stitt made it a point to stop by Sapulpa, Oklahoma to visit and commend the boys who have been in the media so much that they’re probably sick of it by now.
The four “hometown heroes” that ran into a burning home to rescue their elderly neighbor have appeared everywhere from Fox23 to CNN to yours truly. But up to now, they hadn’t met the most influential man in the Sooner State—Governor Kevin Stitt.
That changed on Monday evening when in a gesture of importance, Stitt—who could only spare a half hour—made it a point to come to Sapulpa to thank the boys and shake their hands.
The meeting, which took place at the Central Tech Seminar Center in Sapulpa, featured opening remarks from Senator James Leewright, and State Representative Mark Lawson.
The room was buzzing with small talk until Governor Stitt walked in, then a hush fell over the crowd as the Governor walked over to meet Mrs. Ritchie, the elderly neighbor whom the boys had saved from a house fire. After he sat, Leewright opened the ceremony and turned to the boys to offer his gracious thanks. “You guys exemplify what it means to be Chieftain strong,” he said.
Mark Lawson took the stand and give a number of thanks and recognitions to others who were present, and then also turned to the boys. “We’re a little late to the party on this,” he began, “but we could not miss the opportunity to publicly say thank you to these boys for what they did.”
He began recounting a series of meetings with various other states recently, and he said that other states would “talk about this or that, or their shorelines, or some other thing, but we talked about our most precious resource—our people.” He said that the four boys who saved their neighbor were exactly the right kind of people that Oklahoma needed “to carry on that Oklahoma Standard.”
Finally, Governor Stitt took the stand and said much of the same, from a broader scope of authority: “on behalf of the state of Oklahoma, and as the Governor, we want to say ‘thank you.'”
He pointed to “people helping people” as being a stand-out characteristic of Oklahoma in general and Sapulpa, specifically. “You can’t solve some problems by passing laws; it takes people working with people.”
Lawson had earlier pointed out that same characteristic just after the tornadoes landed on Oklahoma. “The sun hadn’t even come up yet, and people were out checking on their neighbors, helping them and making sure they were okay.”
Wyatt Hall told for the crowd, the story of what happened that day. There was laughter and some smiles as the boys told yet again the story they’ve told and re-told for the last several weeks. Still, even now, the compassion is evident as Hall tears up while telling recounting his concern for their 90-year-old neighbor Catherine Ritchie: “We’re just so glad she’s okay.”