Volume V, Issue 1
January - March
An e-newsletter of the J. D. McCarty Center for children with developmental disabilities
McCarty Center celebrates 65 years of serving
Oklahoma's children with developmental disabilities
In 1946, a veterans group
called the 40 et 8 of Oklahoma
decided to create a health care
facility that would provide the
therapy services that would
help children with cerebral palsy
reach their highest level of independence and functionality.
These veterans didn't make this
decision with much thought of its
long-term impact. They made the
decision because there was an
immediate need that wasn't being met anywhere in Oklahoma.
What has evolved from
this bold decision by the veterans group is the J. D. McCarty
Center for children with developmental disabilities, Oklahoma's
center of excellence in the care
and treatment of children with
special needs from birth to age
During the last 65 years,
this pediatric rehab hospital in
Norman has grown more diverse.
The hospital used to treat just
one diagnosis - cerebral palsy
- and now treats more than 100
different diagnoses in the developmental disability category. And
yet, most Oklahoman's may not
realize what the McCarty Center
does and how it all came about.
It's a fascinating story.
In the beginning
Back in the mid-1940s, few
people knew what cerebral palsy
was, and even fewer people knew
what to do with a child who had a
disability. That was one of the difficulties that the McCarty Center's
first directors had to overcome.
The 40 et 8 tackled the job of
building a facility where Oklahoma
kids could get the intensive therapy
services they needed to reach their
highest level of independence and
functionality. The idea came about
after one member of the 40 et 8
had searched the state in vain for
a place that could teach his grandson to walk and talk. His grandson
had cerebral palsy. So, in 1946,
the 40 et 8 voted to begin plans for
a medical facility that would give
children the help they needed.
The 40 et 8 was established after World War I. The
name "40 et 8" comes from the
narrow gauge railroad cars used
in France to carry 40 men or
eight horses to the front lines
of battle. After World War II, the
French people presented one
boxcar to each state in the union
as a symbol of their gratitude to
the American soldiers. Oklahoma's boxcar sits at the entrance
to the McCarty Center.
For about two years, the
40 et 8 operated the center out
of a building on the U. S. Navy's
former "south base" in Norman,
and the first patient was admitted
in 1947. Patients were treated
regardless of race, creed, color
or the ability to pay.
Continued on Page 2
Oklahoma's boxcar from the
French gratitude train from
which the 40 et 8 of Oklahoma
take their name is located on a
short piece of rail track at the
entrance to the McCarty Center.