Official website for the City of Aurora, Illinois. Mayor Robert J. O'Connor

2017 Aurora African-American Heritage Dinner

Join the African-American Heritage Advisory Board for the 13th Annual Heritage Dinner on Friday, February 24 honoring Coach Tom Boatright.

Purchase Tickets Here

Friday, February 24, 2017
6:00 p.m. Social Hour
7:00 p.m. Dinner & Program
Gaslite Manor
2485 Church Road | Aurora, IL 60505
$50 per person

2017 Outstanding African-American of the Year Award

For nearly three decades, his name has been synonymous with excellence in athletics as the Founder & Director of the nationally-acclaimed Aurora Flyers Track Club. Coach Tom Boatright has dedicated more than three decades helping students from the area achieve their dream, including his grandson, NCAA National Basketball Champion, Ryan Boatright and 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist Morolake Akinosun.

A graduate of East Aurora High School, Tom Boatright himself played on the East Aurora High School varsity football, basketball and track teams. He helped lead his basketball team to the State Finals in 1969 and in 1970. In those same years, he also went to the state finals in track for Long Jump, 100, 200 yard dash and the 800 relay. As a senior he was named Aurora's "Athlete of The Year".

Upon graduation he attended Northeastern State College in Oklahoma on a full football scholarship, where he led the nation in punt returns as a freshman running back. Unfortunately, in his 2nd year his mother died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Upon returning home, he played semi-pro football for the Rockford Rams for two years. He was offered an opportunity to tryout with the Chicago Bears and was on the 1975 rookie roster with Walter Payton but did not make the team. That pivotal moment returned him home to Aurora to continue his employment with ComEd eventually retiring with 30 years of service. It also opened the doors to impact the lives of thousands of Aurora youth by coaching basketball and track at various schools throughout Aurora.

In 1988, he started up the Aurora Flyers Track Club with ten athletes. Today the Flyers are a nationally ranked track and field club with over 100 athletes currently on the roster. With their theme “It’s Fly Time,” the students who participate in the Flyers have competed at Jr. National Olympics with many earning national titles in their respective events. In addition to Ryan Boatright and Morolake Akinosun, hundreds of other students have achieved local, regional and national success over the years.

Thanks to Coach Boatright scores of young athletes have gone on to colleges & universities throughout the country and have remained committed, much like him, to return to Aurora to help the next generation achieve their dreams as well.

2017 Henry Cowherd Scholars

AAHAB will also award high school students with the Henry Cowherd Scholarship named in honor of longtime community leader and 2008 Outstanding African-American of the Year, Mr. Henry Cowherd.


Tickets are $50 each, with a portion going to the Henry Cowherd Scholarship Fund. Tickets can be purchased online here at, by calling 630-256-3402, or contacting Ken Maurice with any questions at

Tickets can be purchased online beginning February 1st up until February 23rd at 9am. Afterward, people can register at 51 East Galena Blvd on February 23rd after 9am ((630) 256-3402), and at the door on February 26th.