If you’ve been watching the NBA playoffs, you may have noticed Miami Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra, Assistant Coaches Ron Rothstein and Keith Askins, shooting guard Mike Miller & guard James Jones wearing teal wrist bands. They’ve even been spotted in the NBA’s Instagram feed (see photos here and here).
So what are these bands? They’re in support of the non-profit organization Lauren’s Kids — a foundation started by our friend and client Lauren Book, a 28-year old advocate from Miami who walks 1,500-miles across the state of Florida each year to raise awareness about child sexual abuse and promote hope and healing for the 42 million survivors in America.
The following article about Lauren’s Kids and support provided by the Miami Heat was originally published by USA Today For The Win Sports on June 13, 2013 and can be found in its entirely here.
Heat helping fight sexual abuse during NBA Finals
He’s shooting 80 percent from three-point range for the Miami Heat and averaging 9.7 points per game. Watching Miller rise and fire, you might catch a glimpse of the teal band around his right wrist.
The wristband reads ‘42 million.’
That’s the number of survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the United States. The other side of the bracelet reads “Lauren’s Kids”, a foundation the Heat have supported for the past three years.
“The story is incredible and I’m just happy to be a part of it,” Miller told USA TODAY Sports. “I’ve seen a lot of things in life, and I’m happy to be a part of something that’s trying to make a difference and help spread the word.”
Lauren Book is the founder of Lauren’s Kids and a Heat fan.
“It’s amazing to see them wearing the bands because when I was an 11-year-old kid, I didn’t think anyone cared,” Book said. “No matter what happens on the court, all of them are champions off it. They have hearts of gold.”
Book is a sexual abuse survivor. From age 11 until 16, she was abused by her female nanny. It wasn’t until her junior year of high school Book worked up the courage to come forward.
“The abuse went on 365 days a year, seven days a week,” she said. “Oftentimes my parents were in the next room.”
Her family took the case to court and brought the nanny to justice. But Book wanted to make sure other kids didn’t have to go through that kind of pain and torment.
Book created Lauren’s Kids, a non-profit organization fighting to prevent childhood sexual abuse, and support survivors.
“It was important for me that kids saw that it did happen to the blonde-haired, green-eyed girl,” Book said.
Four years ago, Book, 28, said she was listening to NPR when she had an epiphany. A man was talking about walking across the country for diabetes awareness and she thought, if he could do that, so could she.
So she called her father, Ron, who’s a lobbyist, and told him she was going to walk across the country.
“He said, ‘You’re crazy,’” she said. “’You can’t do that.’”
But she did.
Book, her father, and their Lauren’s Kids team walked 500 miles from their home in Miami, where Book was abused for six years, to Tallahassee.
Book and her father have helped pass at least 10 laws in Florida including eliminating the statute of limitations in the state for both civil and criminal prosecutions for crimes committed against children under 16, related to sexual assault.
“It’s all about showing people that you don’t need to suffer in silence.”