Coach Bob Stoops Stands Against Budget Cuts To OU Children's Hospital

Thursday, March 13th 2014, 6:49 pm

By: News 9

OU Football coach Bob Stoops was at the Capitol, Thursday, pleading with lawmakers to not cut programs from OU Children's Hospital.

Stoops is no stranger to the hospital. For the last 15 years, he's visited sick children frequently with members of the team. So after hearing the hospital's programs could be cut, losing about $1 million due to the state budget, he wanted to convince legislators otherwise.

It wasn't your typical appearance of Bob Stoops. The football coach, dressed in a suit, wanted his position to be heard loud and clear at the State Capitol.

"I strongly believe that every child in all instances should be served and protected," Stoops said at the Children's Hospital Foundation legislation luncheon.

Stoops made his plea to Oklahoma lawmakers to convince them to not cut funding for two of the hospital's programs: The Child Abuse Neglect Program and the Autism Center, which could lose $500,000 each.

"Just want to encourage them to hopefully take a strong look at it, that we're not neglecting children in any way," Stoops said.

"I stand with the doctors and children as a part of the team, and I speak on behalf to help all the different programs, so that whatever funding that you all decide, that it will be at the best level."

Emilee Spencer, 12, made her plea to lawmakers as well.

"I wouldn't be alive if I didn't have doctors like that," said Emilee, who nearly lost her foot and her life when an ATV flipped over on her two years ago on vacation in west Texas.

"I slipped out and then had to wait for an hour for my friend to run a mile for help. My big toe is fused now. It can't really move. The plate and screws were in my arm, and then the other side of my arm just got ripped up from rocks, and these two lashes were from lacerations to the bone."

Fourteen surgeries, a concussion, kidney failure and dialysis later, Emilee used several pediatric specialists to nurse her back to her old, active self. She could not even put on a shoe for almost a year.

"That means after 18 months, three different antibiotics have totaled up to 2,120 pills, and I don't have to take any anymore," Emilee said.

Emilee was named 2014's Champion Child for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Oklahoma. On the year anniversary on her accident, she ran in and completed a triathlon.

"It helps other kids realize that they can survive whatever they're through, and they don't have to just give up because there's someone who can help them," she said.

Some lawmakers say both Emilee and Coach Stoops' message could help come budget talk time.

"It's so important to put a face to the program, so legislators can see who exactly this will impact," said Rep. Joe Dorman (D) District 65.

"Because we're facing a $188 million shortfall this year, it's so critical for legislators to see what will happen if these programs go away."

Dorman says people should contact their legislators about the importance of the Children's Hospital's Child Abuse and Autism programs to avoid them getting cut.

Lawmakers are expected to have a decision about the budget in May.

Learn more about the hospital's programs.


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