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Friday, December 13, 2013

Laughing & Living

Winter is firmly entrenched in many parts of the country and the holidays are upon us.  More freezing rain and snow is imminent which means no golf will be played for some time.  However the winter weather will not slow down the kids at Ranken Jordan from playing golf every week.  I have regularly talked about how much fun the kids have with golf and how they will not let much get in the way of them playing this great game.  Even doctors and nurses sometimes have to wait until 1 more putt drops before the kids will put down the clubs!

It was about this time last year that one of my fondest memories from our junior golf program occurred.  Last year we had a young man named A.J. who fell in love with golf the first time we put a club in his hands.  During that first introduction to golf, we asked A.J. what he wanted to accomplish with the game.  His reply was "I want to learn how to walk again."  Fast forward a few weeks and A.J. gave all of us who were there one of the greatest Christmas presents imaginable.  He came to the golf clinic in his wheelchair, grabbed a putter, stood up, walked to the putting green, and rolled a few putts.  As you can imagine there were not many dry eyes.  Thankfully Joe Strauss from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was there to write an article about the golf program.  He easily tells the story in a much more eloquent manner than I ever could.  You can read his article by clicking HERE.

Stories like this, miraculous as they are, are not an uncommon occurrence at Ranken Jordan.  The staff there has figured out one thing:  kids heal better and faster when they are having fun.  There are not many pediatric healing facilities where you walk in and see the patients playing air hockey, ping pong, basketball, or golf.  Often times we will have people come over while we are doing the golf clinic to return golf balls they have found in some far corner of the hospital.  The kids do not spend any more time than necessary in their rooms.  They are up and moving around getting back to living while they are healing.

One other thing that is common at Ranken Jordan is laughter.  There certainly is not a much sweeter sound than a child's laugh.  Hearing that makes it obvious that the kids are getting better while they are having fun.  We certainly have our share of laughs while we are playing golf!  That joyful noise always reminds me of a line from "Changes In Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes," one of my favorite Jimmy Buffett songs, when he sings "If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane."  That laughter is extra special during the holiday season and has definitely kept me from going insane . . . sort of.

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