Former OU star hopes to ‘kick’ donations into gear

by Matt Moran, -

Uwe von Schamann spoke to the Altus Rotary Club on Tuesday.

Uwe von Schamann is no stranger to a challenge. From field goals to charitable development goals, he has seen quite a few. He spoke to the Altus Rotary Club Tuesday about the challenges he has faced and the challenge he currently faces with his work for The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital.

Uwe von Schamann was born and raised in Germany until the age of 16, at which point he relocated to Fort Worth, Texas. There he attended high school until graduation and received a football scholarship to the University of Oklahoma. This would set the stage for what those in the Sooner nation refer to simply as “The Kick.”

On Sept. 24, 1977, the University of Oklahoma was up against Ohio State University. After a hard fought battle, Oklahoma was down to Ohio 28-26 at the end of the fourth quarter. There were six seconds left on the clock, and Oklahoma needed a field goal to win the game. Then Coach Barry Switzer brought special kicker Uwe von Schamann out to produce some “Sooner magic.”

As von Schamann was setting up to kick the field goal, Ohio State Coach Woody Hayes called a time-out in order to break his confidence. At this point, the Ohio State crowd began chanting “Block that kick!”

Von Schamann’s response? He removed his helmet and began conducting the crowd’s cheer.

Immediately following the time-out, von Schamann kicked the 41-yard field goal to clinch the Oklahoma win. You couldn’t have scripted a better ending to the game.

Following his college career, von Schamann played for the Miami Dolphins and was a member of two super bowl teams. He also received Rookie of the Year honors for the Dolphins in 1979.

After retiring from the National Football League, he returned to Oklahoma where he worked for the University of Oklahoma and also engaged in private business endeavors. When asked why he returned to Oklahoma, he responded, “I felt like Oklahoma was home. The people make the difference.”

One could say that von Schamann is one of those people. His most notable career path since his football days has been in working with special care centers for children. He worked at the JD McCarty Center in Norman (a state agency that specializes in children with complex developmental capabilities) between 2001 and 2010. He currently works with The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany as part of the communications and development staff.

His address to the Altus Rotary Club yesterday was in regard to what The Children’s Center does for the state as well as what is needed to grow their services.

The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital is a private, non-profit hospital that offers 24 hour medical care, comprehensive rehabilitative therapies, respiratory care, and special education. As von Schamann puts it, “This is the bridge between ICU and home.”

Most of the children at the center stay for two years, and parent education is a huge part of what they do. Their goal is to not only rehabilitate children, but to give parents the training necessary for the type of specialized care their child will need.

The Children’s Center serves all 77 counties in Oklahoma, and most of their cases come from the children’s hospitals in Oklahoma City and Tulsa as well as referral cases. According Heidi Russell, Vice President of Communications and Development for The Children’s Center, Jackson County and the surrounding counties of Greer, Harmon, and Tillman have had 17 cases served by the center in the past four years.

Currently, the facility has 120 beds. Von Schamann explained their current effort to raise donations to build a four story addition and renovate their current campus services building.

The new addition will add two inpatient floors with a total of 40 beds. It will also add a patient services center that will offer a centralized area for the specialized tests and treatments needed by their growing inpatient and outpatient population. Finally, it will add an outpatient clinic featuring 24 exam room and areas for treatment and rehabilitation activities.

The renovation of the campus services building will yield two new pieces. The first is an Activities of Daily Learning Center where rehabilitation takes place in “real world” environments like a simulated house, a life-sized car, and walkways with variable surfaces, curbs and stairs. The second is an education center that will be used for continuing education and training to serve pediatric professionals and students statewide.

The project will require $22 million dollars. As of today, they have already secured $13 million in donations. If another $7.5 million is raised by June of this year, the Mabee Foundation will contribute $2 million as part of a challenge grant, and that will meet the full funding requirements of the new addition.

This is a challenge von Schamann is up to. He is on the road many weeks out of the year raising awareness for The Children’s Center’s mission. His next few weeks are spent in Edmond, Ardmore, Ada, and Poteau.

When asked what Altus residents can do to help contribute, von Schamann pointed to their website,, where The Children’s Center’s mission is described in detail and people can donate if they wish.

Uwe von Schamann spoke to the Altus Rotary Club on Tuesday. von Schamann spoke to the Altus Rotary Club on Tuesday.

by Matt Moran,

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