While watching the Valero Texas Open PGA Tour event this past weekend I couldn't help but think of the multitude of ways the game of golf helps people. During many of his interviews, Joe Gorder, President & COO of Valero, talked about the charitable contributions made by his company's event. This year they were able to donate $10 million to charities. Following the conclusion of the event, they will have over 2,500 golfers spread over several San Antonio area courses playing in an event to raise even more money for charity. Last year alone the PGA Tour gave over $130 million to charities and have donated almost $2 billion in the Tour's history. Add to that total the estimated $35 million raised in 2012 by players for their own charitable initiatives or foundations and you reach a mind-boggling amount of money.
Exactly what does all this money raised for charity actually mean? For many of the recipients of this money it represents opportunity and hope. It gives them the chance to improve their lives through education, physical fitness, or professional job training, and look forward to better days ahead. Other times this opportunity and hope is related to health and the medical field. A significant portion of the charitable dollars raised will go towards research into the myriad of diseases and afflictions that scientists and doctors are hopefully close to finding cures for. Because of the money raised plenty of people will receive medical treatment that they otherwise would not have (oftentimes this is life-saving treatment). The donations may help improve medical facilities or testing equipment. Regardless of the organization receiving the money, it still represents the possibility of a brighter future for all those involved.
One other area of benefit from the game of golf is a person's direct involvement with golf. This can come in the form of playing, going to the driving range, or watching a golf tournament either in person or on tv. At Ranken Jordan we have attempted to capture all of those experiences in our program. The over 1,100 kids our program has impacted in 2 years have enjoyed the opportunity to learn to play the game of golf. This program shows them that they can be involved in sports regardless of their physical limitations (you can read quotes from the kids in the last blog post). A couple of days each summer we have taken the kids to a local golf course to hit balls on the driving range. Needless to say this is a very popular aspect of the program! Last winter the kids had a chance to go play on a full-swing simulator and absolutely loved it. Very soon they will have that same opportunity at Ranken Jordan as we will be adding a simulator at the hospital! This summer the Senior PGA Championship presented by Kitchen Aid will be at Bellerive CC. Don't be surprised if some of the kids are there watching in person.
I encourage you to get involved to whatever level you can. Whether you are giving your time, money, or a combination of the two, do something to help. I, and the kids and staff at Ranken Jordan, along with the Gateway PGA Section professionals would welcome your involvement with PGA Golf Day and/or Ranken Jordan directly (my e-mail address is at the top of the page should you want to contact me or have any questions). But if you don't live in the metro St. Louis area and are more compelled to contribute to a local charity, please do that! I speak from experience when I say that you don't realize the impact you can have until you see that child's face light up when they hit a good golf shot or see a parent with tears of joy running down their face as they watch their son or daughter do something they never dreamed possible.