Gonzaga Athletes Donate To Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery

Dec. 16, 2003

Gonzaga University athletics has always been a part of the local Spokane community but now the student-athletes are giving back to a local charity as the Gonzaga Student Athlete Advisory Committee recently presented a check in the amount of $406 to the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery. The funds were donated by each student-athlete without any fundraising from outside sources. This serves as the Christmas fund raiser for the SAAC and benefits a local charity that has been tied to Gonzaga athletics for the past several years. Gonzaga student-athletes have always played a part in local charities from visiting children at the Shriner's Hospital to hosting free sports clinics, but this marks the first time that student-athletes have given away their own funds for a charity event.

The check was presented to the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery Development Director Mary Savage by four Gonzaga athletes (Kristi Aamodt, Christina Davis, Larisa Manuel and Katie Sanders). The SAAC consists of representatives from each of Gonzaga's 14 intercollegiate sports and serves as a communication body for student-athletes to discuss issues and ideas with the Gonzaga athletic department. The SAAC routinely sets up functions for the Gonzaga student-athletes to come out and support other student-athletes at Bulldog sporting events.

Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery Mission
The Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery is a community-funded, non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect in the Spokane area. Since 1987, the Crisis Nursery has been a refuge for young children at risk of abuse and neglect, and a source of support for their parents. The Crisis Nursery cares for children from birth through age six when there is a possibility these children may be injured or neglected due to family crisis situations like homelessness, poverty, substance abuse and domestic violence. Children can stay at the Crisis Nursery for up to 72 hours at a time, or longer if circumstances deem it necessary. Children are welcomed at the Crisis Nursery with unconditional love and attention, while our staff works with parents to help them resolve the crises in their lives.

Vanessa's Story
Vanessa Kay Behan was born December 24, 1979. Just two years later, Vanessa died tragically from injuries resulting from child abuse. The cause of death was a ruptured bowel caused by a blow to her abdomen. There was evidence of scarring in that area that would indicate trauma from an earlier incident. An autopsy revealed that during her short life, Vanessa had suffered many previous injuries, including a fractured arm, head trauma from having her hair pulled and twisted, a fractured skull and cigarette burns.

While Vanessa was not the first victim of abuse, nor regrettably the last, her story impacted the Spokane community in an unforgettable way. Many who read about the tragedy of her life in the local newspaper wondered what could be done to prevent other children from suffering as Vanessa did. A handful of local volunteers took action, dedicating themselves to establishing a crisis nursery - a place where children would be safe from abuse and neglect - in Vanessa's memory.

The Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery opened its doors in 1987. Since then, more than 30,000 children have found love and protection here. We continue to exist today because of an outpouring of support from the Spokane community. We receive no government funding, and we are not a United Way member agency. Donations from individuals and organizations allow us to keep our doors open to children in need.

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