Last night Ranken Jordan held its annual Gala at the Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis, Missouri. To say the night was incredible would be a gross understatement. I feel very fortunate to have been able to attend this event for the first of I hope many times. Throughout the night hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised for the hospital that excels at producing miracles for kids and their families on a regular basis. Along with the money raised, one of the highlights was the unveiling of a new video explaining exactly what Ranken Jordan does for the kids and their families (you may click the link below to view it). Ranken Jordan's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Nick Holekamp, said it best during his speech when he commented that "the acute care hospitals save kids lives. It's our job to give them their lives back." This thought was a common theme throughout the night.
As the night progressed Dr. Holekamp's quote really resonated with me as I kept thinking about it in regards to our junior golf program. Every week I see more examples of exactly how golf is giving the kids their lives back. When most people see a child laying in a hospital bed, sitting in their wheelchair, or walking with the aid of a walker as well as a therapist, they do not think of putting a golf club in their hands. I do. Giving these kids the opportunity to learn how to play golf regardless of their physical condition is one piece of the puzzle to giving them their lives back.
While I was helping one of the other kids smooth out their putting stroke I felt a tap on my shoulder. The young man who didn't want to play last week had rolled his wheelchair up to me and asked which putter he could use. We quickly got him set up with the right U.S. Kids putter and had him stroking putts in no time. It didn't take long before he asked if he could take some full swings. Just as quickly as the putting mat appeared, it was replaced with an astroturf hitting mat and the putter was replaced with an 8-iron. The first swing sent the ball in the air and it landed right in the middle of the target net! He was hooked! His next comment left me stumbling for a response when he said "now I want to do this standing up." The young man who last week didn't want to even try golf and refused to get out of his wheelchair now wants to hit golf balls standing up?!? Still wondering how golf factors into giving these kids their lives back?
Stories like this are occurring every week at Ranken Jordan - Pediatric Bridge Hospital. Sometimes they involve the golf program and I am thrilled when they do. Looking back on that incredible golf clinic and also thinking of a comment from the Gala during the speech from St. Louis Cardinals Manager & Ranken Jordan Board Member Mike Matheny brings an instant smile to my face. During his speech, Mike said that "you can't have success without serving others." While I perfectly understand what he means by that, I can only hope that my small amount of service to these kids will contribute in some way to their success in life.