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Community Benefits from Choctaw Wellness Center

Photo by Deidre Elrod/Choctaw Nation
The Choctaw Wellness Center in McAlester receives the donations after recent fundraisers sponsored by the center. In attendance are, from left, Eric Proe of Choctaw Nation Wellness, Matthew Morton with Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma, Brittnie Hackler and Jessica Gregg with Hope House, and Brittany Crenshaw and Chase Henson of the Choctaw Nation Wellness.

McAlester – Some strong men and women at the Choctaw Wellness Center in McAlester are carrying their weight and more when it comes to community service. The Choctaw Nation facility, dedicated to fitness and health-based recreation, has a couple of events under its belt aimed at helping nonprofit organizations in the area, the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma and The Hope House.

“Our first event was the Choctaw Classic hosted on June 3 here at the Choctaw Wellness Center in McAlester,” said Brittany Crenshaw, facility supervisor. “The Choctaw Class was a CrossFit-style, two-person team competition. We had a total of 32 teams. All proceeds from the event went to the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma.”

That activity raised $1,920.

“Our second event was the Mac-Town Throwdown,” said Crenshaw. “The Mac-Town Throwdown was a strong-man style competition with men and women weight divisions. We had 27 competitors for this contest. The Hope House of McAlester received all proceeds.”

They collected a total of $810 at that June 24 event for the local women’s shelter.

These are the latest, and largest, of similar such events taking place at Choctaw Wellness Centers across the 10½ counties of southeastern Oklahoma, as they expand their outreach in assisting needs of their local communities.

Chase Henson, Northern Wellness Director for Choctaw Nation Healthy Aging & Wellness, said about the Parkinson’s Foundation, “They were already active in the McAlester area, and this seemed like a good time to go ahead and donate to them.”

Hope House, too, was an agency suggested to receive donations, he said.

“We followed the same process,” Henson said about staging the event. About Hope House, he said, “It helps women in need and it kind of hit home with our Wellness Center.”

Matthew Morton, Eastern Oklahoma Director of the Parkinson’s Foundation of Oklahoma, accepted the check. “Our mission is to improve the quality of life for Parkinson families across Oklahoma. We focus on bringing programs to the rural parts of the state.”

Currently, he said, the Parkinson’s Foundation is only doing activities in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and now McAlester.

“We did a run earlier this year, which did well, and now this. This event is the first time we’ve had interaction with the Choctaw Nation, and we’re excited about it,” Morton said.

Jessica Gregg, Executive Director of Hope House, said her group has worked with the Choctaw Nation for a long time.

“Hope House is a private, faith-based homeless shelter for women and children,” she said, adding that it is non-profit, and receives no state or federal funding.

Their clients, she said, stay an average of four months, getting help with transportation, education, a job, or set up in their residence.

For information on future activities at the Choctaw Wellness Center in McAlester, visit, 3286 Afullota Hina, McAlester, OK 74501; or phone, 918-429-7520. For information on any of the 13 Choctaw Nation Wellness Centers, online visitors will soon be able to view an all-new website at https://www.choctawnation.com/tribal-services/health-services/wellness-centers.