Press Release

Release Date: April 27, 2023
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

STOCKING ISLAND, Bahamas – Combining their love of adventure with a drive to serve, Dwight Durant and his wife, Shelley, have launched a nonprofit organization, Ten- Seven Retreat, dedicated to providing a needed respite to families of fallen law enforcement officers.

Mr. Durant, a Chickasaw citizen and retired Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper, and Mrs. Durant, a retired registered nurse, both spent their careers helping others in need. During their off time, they would head to the lake to recharge and relax.

Soon after they both retired in 2021, the couple embarked on traversing 7,750 miles on the “Great Loop,” a system of waterways which includes the Atlantic, gulf intracoastal waterways, the Great Lakes, Canadian heritage canals and inland rivers of the eastern United States.

A stop on the 13-month nautical journey included a two-month visit to the Bahamas.

The couple were thrilled with the turquoise waters, mild weather, and laid-back atmosphere of the Caribbean Island nation.

“We came down here and fell in love with it,” Mr. Durant said.

Upon returning to their home base of Tulsa, the couple began to dream of a way to share their seafaring adventures and make a positive impact on someone’s life.

“Shelley came up with the concept of a foundation to bring the families of police officers who died in the line of duty for a weeklong retreat,” Mr. Durant said.

The Ten-Seven Retreat organization was born.

“From the moment she said that, to a matter of a week or two, we had our tax (identification) number, and we were off and running,” he said.

Named for the police code for off duty, Ten-Seven Retreat is a nonprofit organization 501(c)(3) that provides an all- expenses-paid retreat to the Bahamas for the spouses and children of Oklahoma law enforcement officers who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

With the help of the couple’s daughter, Caroline Ratliff, a website was launched in June 2022.

Board members were appointed, and fundraising began both online and at community events, such as car shows.

“We raised enough money from June to August to fund a trip for the first recipient,” Mr. Durant said.

The first recipient is the family of Kyle Davis, a Washington County deputy who died in the line of duty March 2021, after an altercation at the county jail in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

His spouse and two children took the trip last month during spring break.

“We want to give them a great opportunity to come out and have some fun as a family and experience things they may not get to experience again and reset themselves from all the tragedy and sorrow they’ve experienced. Give them something fun and make new memories,” Mrs. Durant said.

Given the option to bring an additional family member, the Davis children, ages 7 and 8, told their mom they wanted to make the trip as a family of three and create new memories.

“The whole idea of the retreat is to allow them to start a new life without their loved one. This also gives them an opportunity to experience something they might not ever be able to due to new financial constraints due to the death of a spouse,” she said. “We wanted to do this to help the family start new memories and do new things but also have a chance for them to reflect on the loss of their loved one.”

When the Durants notified the mom of the upcoming trip, she was grateful.

“When we called her and told her we wanted to take her and her two children she was very emotional and said, ‘I really need this, this is the greatest thing,’” Mr. Durant said.

The Durants have worked with many other groups and organizations to conscientiously plan every detail of the trip, and Ten- Seven Retreat is helping with every expense of the trip, including passports.

“The response was phenomenal. We were fortunate,” he said.

Small details, such as having the same driver at the beginning and end of the trip, were also considered, explained Mrs. Durant, to ensure the family felt safe and comfortable.

When it was time for the trip, the Washington County Sheriff’s office escorted the family to the Tulsa airport. The family flew to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and spent the night at a beach hotel. The next morning, the family flew out of a small airport on Makers Air to a tiny island named Staniel Cay in the Exumas.

“We will pick them up on a golf cart and take them to the dinghy dock where our little boat will be waiting,” Mr. Durant said in January.

After boarding the Catamaran and a safety briefing, the family will set the pace for the trip.

“There are so many things to do. They can stay busy, or they can stay on the beach. It’s just going to be whatever they are looking to get out of it,” he said.

Snorkeling, sightseeing and even swimming with pigs are all options.

“We are super excited to get them down here. They are country kids, they hunt and fish and swim, so they ought to fit right in. They are all about the sharks and turtles.”

The highlight of the trip, five days of sailing, sunning and island hopping throughout the Bahamas, is donated by the Durants, who are sharing their vessel, the Ten-Seven Freedom, a 2023 Leopard 42 Sail Catamaran, with the family.

The Durants took delivery of their new boat in August. Soon after, they set sail from Florida for the Bahamas along with their constant companions, Molly and JoJo, their two Redbone coonhounds.

“They are living the good life and probably the only Redbone coonhounds from Creek County, Oklahoma, to ever visit the Bahamas,” Mr. Durant joked.

While touring the islands, the couple have been documenting their adventures on YouTube and Facebook, which started out as a way to keep in touch with their children. The YouTube channel now has more than 1,300 subscribers.

Exchanging life in a landlocked state for the life of a sailor has not been all smooth sailing.

“There has been a huge learning curve,” he said.

The couple have accumulated more than 1,500 United States Coast Guard (USCG) documented sea service days, cruising through shoreward and seaward waters of the U.S., Bahamas, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, and the Gulf of Mexico. They traversed U.S. navigation channels, including inland rivers and the Great Lakes.

Both have earned their USCG certified captain license credentials, as well as American Sailing Association (ASA) sailing certificates early last year, and the Durants have achieved the status of American Sailing Certified Sailors.

Mr. Durant achieved his upgrade to master license with up to 100 tons credentials in April 2022.

Giving Back

During nearly a quarter century as an Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) Trooper, Mr. Durant served as a member of the patrol’s Officers Assistance Program which aids troopers who suffer traumatic events, physical injuries and mental challenges. The program also aids the families of troopers who suffer fatal tragedies, both on and off duty. In this capacity, trooper Durant received hundreds of hours of related training through the patrol and spent countless hours serving others in various locations.

His drive to serve was instilled in him by his Chickasaw father, Bennie Durant, who was also an OHP trooper.

“My father, my aunt and my uncle were always instilling in us to be proud of our heritage. Part of that is being a trooper and giving back to our Oklahoma citizens and tribal citizens. I was taught that by my father: I am a trooper, a First American and a state of Oklahoma citizen. It makes me who I am,” he said.

“I’m honored to be a citizen of the state of Oklahoma and just as honored to be a citizen of the Chickasaw tribe.”

Mrs. Durant would often join her husband to provide help, offering her time and resources to family members without compensation, but simply for the love of being a servant to those who serve. She once accompanied trooper Durant and a delegation to Police Week in Washington D.C., escorting the spouse and children of a trooper who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Retirement and being hundreds of miles away from Oklahoma did not quash the Durants’ desire to serve.

“We still want to give back. I don’t know who will get more out of it, the family or Shelly and I; to be able to see their eyes when we show them the most beautiful place in the world, which is what this place is,” he said.

The Davis’ retreat will be documented and uploaded to Durant’s YouTube channel TenSevenFreedomRetreat4882 to help fund the next retreat and to show donors the result of their contribution.

Future Plans

The immediate goal of Ten- Seven Retreat is to fund two trips a year. A long-range goal is to expand the organization to other states, by working with sailors who are willing to host officers’ families from their home state.

“Our dream is to expand. There are people from all over the country down here. It would be nice if we could get some of those to do what we are doing for their state, but under the umbrella Ten-Seven. Have a flotilla of four or five different boats with four or five different families from their area. Maybe someday we will get there,” he said.

Although the Durants are retired, their need to serve is undeniable.

“Once a servant’s heart, always a servant’s heart, and thus Ten-Seven Retreat is created,” Mrs. Durant said.

They both believe that after decades of service to their communities and to those who serve, this may be their most challenging and rewarding service yet, as this will be the most meaningful to the families of fallen heroes.

For more information, visit Ten-Seven Retreat’s Facebook page Ten Seven Freedom Retreat, website or call (918) 814-9428.