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Manchester University student-athletes are taking a stand against dating violence, led by women’s basketball player Abigail Lang.
Lang grew up watching Heather Norris play basketball at Indianapolis’ Perry Meridian High School. Norris was brutally slain at age 20 by her estranged boyfriend in 2007.
“It hit home about how real abuse is and how tragic its outcome can be,” Lang said. Since the fall of 2013, the Manchester senior has been working diligently to bring Norris’ mother to the University.
At 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3, Debbie Norris will speak at Cordier Auditorium on the North Manchester campus. The event is free and open to the public. “Heather’s Voice: Domestic Violence Awareness” is sponsored by the MU women’s basketball and men’s football teams.
“We're trying to start the conversation about an issue that affects many,” Lang said. “We hope MU students will take leadership to advocate respect of every person's dignity and valuable life, and to become a helping hand to victims who need support.”
Debbie Norris worked with Indiana government officials to pass Heather’s Law, encouraging schools to educate students about domestic violence and dating violence.
“I wanted Manchester students to be able to learn about domestic violence so we can help prevent another tragedy like Heather's,” Lang said. “She had a bright future ahead of her, but no one knew how bad it had gotten. It escalated to the point where he killed her.”
“(Debbie) is very candid and frank about what happened to Heather,” she added. “I feel like this story needs to be heard. There is so much of it in the news now, too, with the NFL, other pro sports leagues and even some colleges and universities having issues.”
“We had to get this conversation started," said Josh Dzurick, who is faculty sponsor of the February program. "When the football and women's basketball programs stand together on this issue, it sends a very powerful message.
"Neither program was afraid of the hard work it took to make this happen," he said. "I'm proud of the perseverance that Abby had to get this put together."
Manchester University, with campuses in North Manchester and Fort Wayne, Ind., offers more than 60 areas of academic study to nearly 1,500 students in undergraduate programs, a Master of Athletic Training and a four-year professional Doctor of Pharmacy. Learn more about the private, northern Indiana school at www.manchester.edu.
January 26, 2015