How To Help

To contribute to the Ranken Jordan junior golf program or to ask any questions please e-mail me at This blog is not affiliated with Ranken Jordan. The views expressed on this blog are those of the author and not those of Ranken Jordan. Thank you for reading!

Saturday, May 31, 2014


"I'm addicted."  Those words typically imply a negative connotation.  Given the many meanings that can be associated with that statement it makes sense that people logically think the worst when they hear those words.  It is certainly something you usually do not want to hear when working with young people.  When and if you do hear them from the mouth of a teenager you likely hope a huge smile is not accompanying those two words.  Not long ago I had a young man tell me about his addiction, and he did so with a smile on his face.

His addiction afflicts approximately 24 million other Americans and I am included in that number of addicts.  The cause is really quite simple to understand.  In this particular case the cause of the addiction was a sunny Wednesday in May and a well struck 8 iron.  Yes, his addiction is to golf.  After he hit that solid 8 iron he looked at me and said "I'm addicted to golf.  I love playing!"  There are not many things that can make you feel better than hearing a young man in a wheelchair say something like that about an activity he likely never thought he could do.  All he needed to achieve this success was the opportunity to get a golf club in his hands and a little bit of instruction.  Seems pretty simple for such great results, right?

Presenting kids the opportunity to create possibilities, healing, and hope through the game of golf is a really special situation to be a small part of.  The longer I am involved with the golf program at Ranken Jordan the more I learn and understand the role golf plays in the lives of these amazing kids.  No longer are they only playing golf during our clinics (and special trips to the golf course).  Almost every week when I get there I hear about the 2 or 3 times during the week that the kids had to get the golf clubs out so they could practice.  This junior golf program is allowing them to be involved and included in sports.  And through that inclusion, the game of golf is being used to help them heal and get their lives back.

Normally when people of any age enter a hospital it is to get better and not to get addicted to anything.  This addiction is a special situation and one that is encouraged at Ranken Jordan!  Kids heal best through play.  Anyone who visits Ranken Jordan or spends any time there will see that first-hand.  I am thrilled that golf has become something that the kids look forward to doing and enjoy so much . . . and I am happy to feed their addiction!  As I wrote about in the last blog post we have eclipsed the 3 year mark for our program.  During that time we have created many golf addicts and hope to create many more in the coming weeks, months, and years.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Three Years Is Just the Beginning

May 10, 2014 came and went with little or no fanfare.  For many it was just another Saturday.  Some folks may have seen it as the 3rd round of The PLAYERS Championship, the week in between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, or the day before Mother's Day.  At Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital May 10 is a bit of a special day as that is the anniversary date of the first golf clinic we held for the kids.  This year marks three years since the inception of the program.  It is a day that will always hold an important place not only for me but also for Janine Roe, CTRS, Community Programs Director at Ranken Jordan.

During the three years we have had over 150 junior golf clinics and positively impacted in excess of 2,000 children.  For many junior golf programs these numbers are not significant at all.  But no other junior golf program in the country is held 52 weeks a year at a pediatric hospital like Ranken Jordan.  At least one day a week every week of the year visitors to the hospital hear that sweet click of a well struck golf shot or bend over to retrieve a runaway golf ball.  They hear laughter from the kids and see smiles on their faces that could light up the darkest of rooms.  They see kids having fun and getting better at the same time.

Looking back over our first three years we have been fortunate to witness many amazing accomplishments.  As Janine readily tells anyone who will listen, "I've seen a lot of miracles through our golf program."  Many of these instances can be found in multiple blog posts that I have written.  There have been teenagers taking the first steps of their lives, standing for the first time, or progressing from the hospital bed to a wheelchair to ambulatory.  Each week there is something new happening that shows the significant role the game of golf is playing in the recovery of these children.  But the one thing I look forward to the most every week is seeing the kids smile.  It is an incredibly simple goal yet a very important one at the same time.

Creating a bright spot each week for these kids is something I am very proud of and look forward to.  Very often golf is included in their therapy program so the kids are getting to play while they are getting better.  Other times golf is used as a reward for completing therapy.  Whatever the situation the kids look forward to golf and can't wait for the next clinic.  Seeing a smile on the face of the kids or having one of them say "thank you" is an indescribable feeling.  There have been mothers crying tears of joy as they watch their child hit shot after shot, a feat they never dreamed imaginable.  Other parents have referred to the golf program as "magic" and "a dream come true."

Everyone who has been a part of the junior golf program at Ranken Jordan sees the good it is doing for the kids.  I have said it before and I will say it again, golf is a healing tool.  Over the three years of our program we have seen kids healing through golf and we are just getting started on this journey.  Many new and exciting adventures are on the horizon for our junior golf program.  Thanks to the generosity of the St. Louis Cardinals ushers and the single passenger golf cart they have donated, the kids will be able to get on the golf course more often this summer!  The program will continue to grow and evolve as we find more ways to help the kids through golf.  I am grateful beyond words at having been allowed the opportunity to bring golf to the kids at Ranken Jordan.  These first three years have been life-changing for me and I am ready for many, many more years.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Out of the Wheelchair

Miraculous.  Inspirational.  Awe inspiring.  Amazing.  These are only a few of the words that anyone at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital, staff, patients, family, visitors, etc., may hear or use on any given day.  The words can be used to describe the patients, staff, and/or facility.  Some of you who regularly read this have been to Ranken Jordan and know exactly what I mean.  I encourage those of you who haven't been to schedule a tour to go visit.  I promise you before you finish the tour you will be speechless and trying to figure out how many different ways you can help.

As I mentioned, those words at the beginning of this post can be used to describe the patients at Ranken Jordan.  One of those patients is one of our "regulars" for golf every week.  That same junior golfer will usually ask the therapists to get the clubs out at other times for a little bit of extra practice.  Every week we see the smiling teenage face of one of our most avid, dedicated golfers.  Some might think being in a wheelchair would cause some issues as it relates to hitting a golf ball.  Still others would be concerned that playing right-handed one week and then switching to left-handed the next week would increase the difficulty.  Anyone who things either of those things would be very wrong.  This is one junior golfer who does not allow a wheelchair to get in the way of grooving a good putting stroke or adding distance to the driver.

On May 10 we will be celebrating the 3rd anniversary of the first golf clinic at Ranken Jordan.  When our teenage junior golfer got to the golf clinic today the celebration started a bit early.  Very recently the therapy program was changed for this constantly smiling youngster.  The new program included time out of the wheelchair and standing up for the first time of their life.  I first learned about it last week when between shots I was asked if next time they could hit golf balls while standing.  Today we made that wish come true.  Once the tee time arrived, it was out of the wheelchair, into the stander, grab a putter, and start sinking putts!  There are no words to describe my emotions when I saw that.  Suffice it to say I was thankful for my sunglasses to hide the tears.

This is the second time I have been fortunate enough to experience something like this.  People who know me will not believe that I was totally speechless both times.  There are literally no words that can adequately describe what you are witnessing.  Through conversations with both junior golfers I know that golf played a small role in getting them out of their wheelchairs.  To whatever extent golf helped, I am very humbled to be allowed to be there and part of such a miraculous moment.  As we come up to our 3 year anniversary of the golf program I look forward to more experiences like this and more times I am thankful to be wearing sunglasses.