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Van Oort getting award

OUPD Lt. Steve Noftz hands Nate Van Oort his award on behalf of the Coolville Lions Club

Photographer: Tammy Little

Van Oort saluting with officers

Nate Van Oort honors America with local and area police officers

Photographer: Tammy Little

Van Oort with family and police

Nate Van Oort poses for group photo with his family and law enforcement personnel

Photographer: Tammy Little

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Former campus police officer recovering from lightning hit

Nate Van Oort presented humanitarian award in Coolville

Saturday, July 31, was a special day for former Ohio University police officer Nate Van Oort,  his family and friends.
Van Oort was presented with the Coolville Lions Club Humanitarian Award during the village's annual Founders Day celebration. He was recognized for serving his country and local community before he was struck by lightning on June 22, 2006, near Logan, Ohio.

When he was struck, Van Oort was representing OUPD in the Athens leg of the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit the Ohio Special Olympics. Despite being lifeless for more than 20 minutes while police officers administered CPR, Van Oort managed to survive the ordeal and is now on the road to recovery.
OUPD Lt. Steve Noftz, who remains a close friend of Van Oort, said the fact that Van Oort is still alive is a miracle.  

"In the days following the incident, hospital doctors asked Nate's wife, Ginny, to consider taking him off life support so that he could die peacefully," Noftz said. "Nate has showed strength through all of this, even during the toughest times, and his situation has brought the best out in people. It was amazing that a year to the day after his injury, he carried the Flame of Hope in Ohio State University's Jesse Owens Stadium for the opening ceremonies of the 2007 Ohio Special Olympics Games."
Before the injury, Van Oort served his country in Iraq and built a reputation as a loyal and dedicated employee who dedicated his time and talents to the community. These accomplishments made him a worthy candidate for the Humanitarian Award.

John Coen, chief of the Coolville Fire Department, was the person who recommended Van Oort to the Coolville Lions Club after his wife and daughter, who had recently became friends with Van Oort through their church activities, told him they were impressed with his positive attitude, cheerful personality and past accomplishments.

"They came home one day and said it would be great if the Lions Club could honor Nate with an award to thank him for all the work he has done for people," Coen said. "The Lions Club agreed. It was a good day that was enjoyed by all the fans, and I hope the award ceremony serves as a kind of therapy for Nate."

George Gilbert, treasurer of the Coolville Lions Club, said the publicity surrounding Van Oort receiving the award led to a bigger than usual Coolville Founders Day crowd and a higher level of excitement throughout the day.

"We had about 500 people attend Founders Day, which is more than usual," Gilbert said. "I also think the parade was the best we've had in at least 20 years, and I contribute a lot of that to people wanting to see Nate receive his award."

Noftz said one of the best things about the day was the support that Van Oort received from local and area law enforcement agencies. Most Athens County law enforcement agencies participated in the Founders Day parade as well as the Columbus Police Department's Honor Guard bagpipe players and a few of its police officers.

"It was nice for Nate to see how much people care about him," Noftz said. "He soaked it all in. We always tell Nate that he will always be considered a part of OUPD and the law enforcement