Kearney dad uses basketball to raise child abuse awareness

Brad Whitford knows all too well the tragic side effects of abuse and its long lasting effects. He can no longer share the moment of walking side-by-side with his daughter Ava.

Thousands of basketball fans are geared up for tournament action but one Kearney dad wants to use the sport to raise child abuse awareness.

The Big 12 men's basketball tournament is underway but a lesser known tournament is raising money for victims of child abuse.

Brad Whitford knows all too well the tragic side effects of abuse and its long lasting effects. He can no longer share the moment of walking side-by-side with his daughter, Ava Whitford.

"She was injured severely by her caretaker and she survived barely. Now she is in a wheelchair assumingly for the rest of her life. She can't move her arms legs for any meaningful purpose. She can't talk," Whitford said.

His daughter was two years old at the time of the injury. The now 9-year-old has undergone 16 major surgeries.

"There were a lot of times I was really depressed," Whitford said.

Whitford decided he had to do something.

"I thought well let's get a fundraiser going instead of dwelling on the negative things. We could make something positive out of a negative," he said.

Whitford started Hoops Against Abuse, a basketball tournament that raises money for victims of child abuse.

All of this years funds will go to Lizzie's Hope. The non-profit offers financial, educational and emotional support for abused children.

"If you have a bad feeling about someone that is going to be around your kid, don't be afraid to say something. Don't be afraid to go get help. You never know what could happen. It can happen to anyone really," Whitford said.

Twelve teams are competing in the Hoops Against Abuse tournament on Saturday at Kearney Junior High School.

Each team donated $300 to the charity. They will also hold a silent auction to raise even more money for Lizzie's Hope. The event starts at 8:30 a.m.

Click here for more information on Hoops Against Abuse.

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