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December 13, 2012

Mary Abbott House teamwork celebrated

NORMAN — The kind of teamwork that builds championship basketball teams is similar to the efforts put forth to help build a network that helps begin the healing for sexually and physically abused children, OU basketball coaches Lon Kruger and Sherri Coale said Wednesday.

The two coaches spoke at the seventh annual Mary Abbott Children’s House Basketball Coaches luncheon. They joined the podium with executive director Clint Williams, board members Kristopher Boyd and Heather Woods-O’Connell, volunteer Celeste Scott and classical guitarist Larry Hammett.

Kruger, in his second season as men’s coach, said Coale reminded him to keep his mid-December calendar clear for the annual luncheon. He said his family had lived many places but found Norman to be an extremely caring environment.

He said the Abbott House team puts kids and their families who have been through terrible ordeals into a comfortable situation.

“We’re very fortunate to be in an environment that has a facility like Mary Abbott House,” he said.

The facility, at Crawford Avenue at Symmes Street, is named for the late Norman pediatrician Dr. Mary Abbott. She was a pioneer in investigating child sex abuse and bringing police, prosecutors and medical personnel together to help victims. The nonprofit plans to expand services next year after building out a part of its headquarters that has never been finished.

Abbott House is one of about 700 independent children’s advocacy centers across the country. It serves Cleveland, Garvin and McClain counties. Team members include police and sheriff’s deputies, the district attorney’s office, child protective services, mental health care professionals and medical staff.

The nonprofit helped victims in 19 other counties this past year.

Coale said she just finished reading a book that describes three basic types of prayers: for help, thanks and wow.

“What if we paused for 30 seconds and thought about the little lives that are put back together at Abbott House?” she said. “I can’t wait to see the wows that occur in 2013.”

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