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Wednesday, July 12, 2006
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Health condition of police officer shows improvement

ATHENS, Ohio (July 12, 2006) --   Ohio University Police Officer Nathan Van Oort's medical condition has improved within the past few days and he has been upgraded from critical condition to stable condition at the Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus. 

Nathan Van Oort photo by Rick FaticaVan Oort, 44, has recently had limited speech and communication with hospital personnel, family members and visitors. 

"My staff is thrilled that Nate's condition has shown some improvement," said Ohio University interim Chief of Police Mark Mathews. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family and we are hoping that he makes a full recovery."

Van Oort was severely injured by a lightning strike near Logan, Ohio, on June 22 while he was participating in the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics. He was among a group running the torch from Athens to Lancaster.

A member of the OUPD Bike Patrol, Van Oort has been an employee with the Ohio University Police Department since April 2000. In January 2006, he returned from a 14-month tour of duty in Iraq as a member of the Ohio Army National Guard. He began his career at the Ohio University Police Department as a communication officer, before being hired as a police officer in August 2002. 

In order to provide financial support for the Van Oort family, the Athens chapters of the Ohio Patrolman Benevolent Association and the Fraternal Order of Police are sponsoring a benefit at 10 a.m., Saturday, July 15, at the Elks Lodge on 600 West Union St., Athens, Ohio. 

The benefit will feature Chinese and silent auctions from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., a live auction from 2 to 5 p.m., and a Texas Hold'em Tournament to round out the day. Buy-in for the poker tournament starts at 5 p.m. and cards will be dealt at 6 p.m. Food and beverages will be sold throughout the day. 

Items to be auctioned include: arts and crafts, bicycles, NASCAR tickets, Columbus Zoo tickets, lawn equipment, flights from the Ohio University Airport, electronics, sports collectables, sporting event tickets, horseback riding tickets, tools, automobile items and various gift certificates. All proceeds will be donated to the Van Oort family.

Media Contact: Media Specialist George Mauzy, (740) 597-1794 or mauzy@ohio.edu, or Media Relations Coordinator Jessica Stark, (740) 597-2938 or starkj@ohio.edu

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