By Hannah Cruz
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Images of Mario video games danced through the young imagination of Max Joyner as he ripped open the package of a brand new PlayStation Portable gaming system Wednesday morning.
The package was well-received by the 6-year-old at the J.D. McCarty Center, a center for children with developmental disabilities located in Norman, as a gift donated by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
Darrell Weaver, OBNDD director, said the OBNDD were happy to donate 15 Sony PSP Go gaming systems and two iPod classics that were seized from a shoplifting ring in 2009, to the center.
“Today is a win-win. We took from the bad guys and we’re giving to the good guys,” Weaver said. “They’re going to get to play, play, play and every time they do it, they can remember there are good guys out there.”
The items were recovered by the OBNDD Highway Interdiction Unit during a vehicle search on Interstate 40 in Oklahoma in 2009, OBNDD spokesman Mark Woodward said. Insurance had already paid for the Chicago store’s lost items and the seized items were awarded to the OBNDD.
Seized items are either auctioned off or are given to various state agencies that can benefit from the items. Weaver said the center was the best place the OBNDD could think to give the electronics.
The center is a state agency and a specialized pediatric rehab hospital for children from birth to age 21. The center provides medical care and physical, occupational, speech and language therapy for children on an inpatient and outpatient basis.
Vicki Kuestersteffen, director and CEO of the center, said she is grateful for the OBNDD’s gift. Items will directly serve the center’s children.
Though three of the center’s children — Joyner, 13-year-old Alex Prince and 10-year-old Bradley Sprinkle — are being gifted their own PSP directly as a special treat, Kuestersteffen said the center will utilize the rest for various therapies.
“We use games like that to help them with their fine motor control, which then goes into activities of daily living and all of that,” she said.
Kuestersteffen said 35 children are currently staying at the facility. Last year alone, she said the center had 48,000 encounters with patients throughout the state.
The children at the center face a myriad of challenges, Kuestersteffen said. With some children even in custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, receiving the electronics is just another chance for the children to gain a new experience and feel joy.
“I’ve been here for 22 years and this is actually the first time something like this has happened to the J.D. McCarty Center. We really appreciate you thinking about the kids,” she said about the OBNDD’s gift.
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