Thunder Visits Fort Sill

As the NBA Cares Hoops for Troops FIT Clinic wrapped up, Sgt. Cedrick Workmon and his 16-year-old daughter Franchelle, shared a smile and a hug. Only paces away, Thunder center Daniel Orton was taking pictures and signing autographs, capping a wonderful afternoon for all those in attendance at the Rinehart Fitness Center at Fort Sill.

The military base shares tight bonds with the local community of Lawton, and on Thursday many of the children who live on or near the base with military parents and other local kids were greeted by Orton, Rumble and the Thunder Girls for the Operation Live Well Health Expo that took place on the base throughout the day. During the FIT Clinic Orton set up a new station to help more of the participants stay active and get involved, while also making sure to stay engaged with all of the kids who attended.

“It was really fun,” Franchelle Workmon said. “I got to see some of my friends here and it was just basically a really fun thing for the Oklahoma City Thunder and Daniel to come out here and help some kids get fit.”

“We really appreciate that the NBA and the Oklahoma City Thunder came out and actually do this type of program,” Sgt. Workmon said. “They get to see some of their role models do some of the same things they see on TV.”

While the team may play its games in Oklahoma City, it represents the entire state of Oklahoma and values all members of the community, including the military and their families. The Thunder encourages healthy living at all ages, but through its regular community relations activities during the season, the organization attempts to teach the youngest generations of Oklahomans about good exercise and eating habits.

“At this age, staying healthy is incredibly important and it’s probably one of the number one things that should be on their mind,” Orton said. “(I wanted them to) just learn drills that they can do with each other to stay healthy and get better at basketball.”

Military life is obviously tough on the soldiers who sacrifice for their country, but can also be difficult for the families and children who deal with parents being gone. As Colonel and Garrison Commander Glenn Waters described, the fact that soldiers are transferred to different bases every few years results in challenging circumstances for children.

Meeting friends, going to a new school and getting used to surroundings are taxing, but events like the one on Thursday go a long way to helping those transitions go more smoothly. Having Orton there as a representative of not only the Thunder but as an Oklahoman was a touching experience for soldiers, parents and children alike.

“This is a great event to have them break down some of those barriers and meet new people as they get ready for the school year in a couple more weeks,” Colonel Waters said.

“The fact that you can change someone’s life is awesome,” Orton said. “That I’m from Oklahoma and can be here for them and be a role mode, that means a lot to me and I hope it means a lot to them.”

Like Franchelle Workmon, many of the children who attended the FIT Clinic had military parents who were in attendance and could help them enjoy the moment. There were some kids, however, who had a parent currently deployed, which made Thursday’s event a much-needed day of fun and a reprieve from worrying about a loved one. Sisters Malia and Karlena Greenhouse took part in the drills, got to meet Orton after the event and enjoyed having a Thunder player teach them the game of basketball and encourage them to stay fit.

“Our father is deployed overseas right now and it’s kind of difficult, I have nobody to play ball with,” the Malia Greenhouse said. “It was definitely a great experience. (Orton) was really watching us and checking out our skills.”

“I think that it was the best day that I ever had,” Karlena Greenhouse exclaimed, chiming in.