An issue that I addressed in one of the earliest posts on this blog is why I started the junior golf program at Ranken Jordan. The simple answer to that is the one I gave in that early post: "Why not?" However in the months that have passed since writing that post I have been fortunate to have several in depth conversations with some of the kids, their families, Ranken Jordan staff, and other golf professionals around the country who work with physically challenged players. Through these conversations it has become extremely clear that programs like this are much more than just exposing these kids to the game of golf. Time spent playing golf is very meaningful to all of those involved, especially the kids.
"My son has a love for sports. Due to
multiple hip surgeries he has been confined to a wheelchair most of his life.
One of the many sports he loves is golf. When he was a patient at Ranken
Jordan he was able to fulfill one of his wishes. That wish was to play golf. Ranken
Jordan offers children with disabilities so many wonderful opportunities, but
their golf program was my son's favorite. The golf professionals that came in were
incredible. They taught him how to swing a golf club in his wheelchair. They took
one of his dreams and made it a reality. I was fortunate enough to witness the
look of sheer happiness and confidence on his face as he saw that he was
able to enjoy sports. I am so grateful to Ranken Jordan and their program for
allowing him to have this opportunity of a lifetime."
It does not take much discussion to quickly realize the significant positive impact golf has in the lives of medically complex children. Whether it be a wish being fulfilled, showing them how they can play the game of a lifetime, or simply helping with their rehabilitation, the golf program has given these kids possibilities they likely did not realize were available to them. By taking the kids to the golf course and putting them into single-passenger carts they have seen a level of independence that they did not know was there for them. We have seen golf be the reason why a kid goes through their daily rehab (and in some cases golf has been the rehab).
These examples bring it back to the original point of why I started this program and why I am so excited every week when I get to the hospital. The reason that comes to my mind and won't leave is that starting this program was the right thing to do. I do not have a fancy explanation or long drawn out narrative explaining why. It was just the right thing to do. One smile or one high five following a well-struck shot or a holed putt is all the reason that I need. I am fortunate to see first-hand what I consider to be miracles and hopefully play some small role in the recovery of these amazing kids. Golf has given a tremendous amount to the more than 1,400 kids (and counting) who have been part of our program. But the one who has been given the most is me. To each and every one of the kids who has been to "golf day" . . . thank you.