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Thursday, May 9, 2013

2 Years & Counting!

In all likelihood May 10, 2013 will come and go with little significance in the grand scheme of things.  At Ranken Jordan, however, this date will mark the 2 year anniversary of the start of our "Learn To Golf" program.  To me, it is no surprise that the clinic we do next Tuesday will be the beginning of our 3rd year.  What is a surprise is the impact we have had throughout the first 2 years.

Some of the benefits to the kids that were initially discussed were the physical, social, and emotional improvements they could/would see by participating in a sport, especially a sport they could continue to play when they leave the hospital.  These benefits have been evident on a weekly basis and can be seen just by walking through the hospital.  I have seen the improved strength, lengthened swings, better coordination, more outgoing personality, etc., in many of the kids who have been to several of the clinics.  I have heard the stories of how the kids will ask the therapists to get the golf equipment out during the week so they can play and practice before the next clinic.  I have seen the smiles light up a kid's face when they recognize one of the PGA Professionals walking through Warner's Corner to get ready for golf.  I have also watched a 13 year old reach his goal of "learning to walk again" as his first steps lead him to the putting green where he is about to sink the first putt he looks at outside of his wheelchair.  These benefits barely scratch the surface to what has been accomplished at Ranken Jordan through the game of golf.

There are days I have stood next to a parent, grandparent, or sibling, and watched tears of joy stream down their face as they watch ball after ball flying through the air.  Oftentimes it is because they never expected the junior golfer they are watching to be able to participate in any sport due to their physical limitations.  We have shown the kids and their families that they can enjoy a sport and they can be a part of athletics.  The mixture of emotions shown when they realize this is incredible.  I don't believe there are many facilities like Ranken Jordan where you can hear a conversation involving which golf course the family should go to when they leave the hospital.  I have been fortunate to be involved in those conversations and look forward to many more of them as we move into the future.

Ranken Jordan has also enjoyed benefits from the "Learn To Golf" program.  Because there are so few of these programs around the country it is something people want to talk about.  We have had stories on television, in newspapers, and national magazines.  Each time a story is reported it increases the awareness of the hospital and promotes the miracles they are achieving every day.  People around St. Louis are talking about the golf program and again, every time they speak about it, Ranken Jordan is put in front of someone else who may not know about the great things the hospital does.  Then there is the Gateway PGA Golf Day.  In 2012 this event donated almost $11,000 to Ranken Jordan.  Our PGA Section's hope is that the 2013 event can blow that total out of the water!  To help with that, click HERE and then click on the "Donate" button.

In a lot of ways 2 years isn't a significant amount of time.  As it relates to our junior golf program I feel that it is if for no other reason than the number of kids who have been impacted through this program.  Almost every week I see or hear how golf is changing and improving the lives of the kids at Ranken Jordan.  Each of these instances leads to the almost 1,200 kids who have been impacted during the first 2 years of our program.  Hopefully over the next 2 years (and well beyond that) we will see more than 1,200 kids exposed to life-changing benefits from the game of golf!

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