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Michael Paul McGill
Nominated by Kristen Henry
Philanthropist. Protector. Patriot. Michael McGill is all of that and more, turning his passion for America into a productive career of serving the military, the state of Oklahoma, and the country at large. His latest accomplishment is through founding a charity, The School Of Athens, that’s become a valued member of the President’s Volunteer Service Award program.
The Mississippi native has been a part of the U.S. Army for 17 years, overcoming a childhood disability of a clubbed foot to join the military. It took multiple reconstructive surgeries as a child for Mr. McGill to even have full use of his leg. But he persevered, becoming a decorated soldier and finding his voice to solve civil injustice in the world while serving America with multiple tours overseas. After a 15-month stint in Africa, followed by stops in Iraq and South Korea, McGill witnessed firsthand how basic human rights are not guaranteed in other countries. It stirred a passion in him to protect those American rights we hold dear to our hearts from his first stint in Lawton, Oklahoma in 2003 to the present day. During the past four years, he’s developed a laser-like focus on charitable causes that benefit children and underprivileged families in the Sooner State.
The School of Athens, founded in 2017, is where McGill and his growing list of Lawton partners work together to help the community. Through thousands of donations the past three years and the work of dedicated volunteers, the organization has wiped out 17 school’s entire lunch debt. It provides poor children the ability to eat without fear while supplying them with basic necessities to learn. The charity has provided low-income schools with hundreds of book bags full of supplies, 300 books for teachers and delivered 3,100 pounds of food to children and their families since its inception.
The goodwill extends far beyond Oklahoma. In fact, Mr. McGill has helped distribute 250,000 meals to the victims of Hurricane Michael in Florida and 16,230 lbs of Humanitarian Aid to the victims of Hurricane Laura in Louisiana. He’s helped provide 1,200 nurses with Personal Protective Equipment throughout Oklahoma and Mississippi during the COVID-19 pandemic and actively counsels people on how to stay safe.
The charity’s official mission is to provide underprivileged children with the resources and basic necessities that will allow them to have an equal opportunity in life. They preach that equality in a variety of different ways, running the gambit from holding marches in support of civil injustice this summer to events that bring awareness to Lawton’s LGBT community. One such fundraiser raised enough money to pay for a family to stay with their terminally ill infant for an entire month while the child was in Oklahoma City Children’s Hospital.
Mr. McGill’s motto is, “If you have the ability to respond, it’s your responsibility.” That’s why he also runs a search-and-rescue operation dedicated to helping those immediately after natural disasters hit. Just like in the Army, he runs into the eye of the storm as a first responder rather than running away.
Mr. McGill’s impact on society has been featured in multiple news stories within the Oklahoma area. His charitable contributions have drawn the attention of media while search and rescue led to an appearance on FOX News as a correspondent.
Michael McGill has dedicated his life to this great country and making Oklahoma a better place. There’s no more deserving recipient of the Oklahoma Human Rights Award than a man whose vision is to correct injustice in the world while pursuing justice for all.