Annual Gala

2022 Gala Speaker – Craig O’Neill

Craig O’Neill is an Arkansas legend known by all. For 31 years he was a DJ with various stations around the state, and for the past 22 years a local news anchor with THV11 where he started in sports and moved to news in 2008. In that time he’s been a part of more than 9,000 events throughout Arkansas, and helped raise over 40 million dollars for nonprofits across the state.

In 2018, Craig’s focus shifted to a new mission, children’s literacy. While school visits were a part of his resume, it was then that they became his cause. This passion was sparked from visiting schools, a love of reading, and this line from the Rockefeller Foundation:

“Only 40 per cent of Arkansas students are reading on grade level. This is a tragedy that should concern us all…If we learned that only 40 per cent of Arkansas children had shoes, there would be shoe drives statewide until that problem was corrected. This is the call we make today concerning literacy.”

Craig’s goal is to convey joy through reading, and help children understand that a book is your best friend, because it always gives you its best. Reading produces excitement, passions, solutions, empathy, self awareness, and so much more. With a book, you’re never alone. He says the passion he hopes to leave behind is the final chapter in a book he’s truely enjoyed writing.

Craig has been married to his college sweetheart Jane for the past 52 years. Together, they have two adult children, Abby Kerby (married to Josh Kerby) and Thomas, and two grandchildren, Bella and Amelia.

Past DPEF Gala Speakers

  • 2021 – Matt Zimmerman
  • 2019 – Chuck Dovish
  • 2018 – Walt Coleman
  • 2017 – Johnny Key
  • 2016 – DJ Williams
  • 2015 – Steve “Wildman” Wilson
  • 2014 – Craig O’Neill
  • 2013 – DHS EAST Classroom
  • 2012 – Patti Shipp