Far too often I sit down in front of the computer to write a new blog post and wind up staring at a blank screen. Sometimes I am distracted by the Cardinals game and get caught up watching it instead of what I had intended to do. Other times my brain is fried from successive long days in the golf shop. Yet other times I simply cannot decide what I want to write about. When you spend regular time in a pediatric hospital interacting with the kids on a consistent basis you have so many stories swirling around in your head that you have a difficult time prioritizing which ones to tell first. Every week at Ranken Jordan I am learning something new from the kids or a golfer will come into the golf shop and inquire about the junior golf program. Typically these occurrences are ones that I want to elaborate on and tell the full story on this blog. Unfortunately I am not smart enough to write down the ideas when they pop into my small mind!
One of the topics that I always enjoy writing about and sharing with others is the reaction from new volunteers the first time they come to Ranken Jordan to help with the junior golf program. Regardless of who it is, their background, or what they do for a living, they all have the same initial reaction: "we're in a hospital?" When you pull into the parking lot at 11365 Dorsett Road you do not believe you are looking at a pediatric hospital. Walking through the front doors does nothing to change that feeling. Ranken Jordan does not look or feel like a typical pediatric hospital because it is not a typical pediatric hospital. It is a unique facility with unique, special doctors, nurses, therapists, staff, patients, families, and volunteers. This point becomes evident to those new visitors almost immediately. "Care beyond the bedside" is not a slogan; it is a belief that has been carried out since day 1.
Recently I have had the good fortune to introduce several new volunteers to Ranken Jordan. Thanks to their willingness to share their time and compassion with the kids, these wonderful people have learned why I am so passionate about Ranken Jordan and why I believe so strongly that golf is a healing tool. Prior to the start of the golf clinics, I share with all new volunteers the same thoughts about the golf program that I have shared on here in the past. This program is not a typical junior golf program. Each child derives a different type of benefit from learning to play golf. Quite often there are multiple benefits for the children. Yes the kids learn how to play golf but that part is secondary to other more important benefits. The physical, social, and emotional healing and improvements they get from learning to play golf and being involved with a sport far outweigh learning how to get the optimum launch angle with their driver or get a putt rolling perfectly.
The people who come to Ranken Jordan to help with the junior golf program see how important "play" is to the healing of children. For lack of a more eloquent way of saying this, they get it. They see how important it is to put a smile on a child's face, get them to laugh, or teach them something new. More importantly, they see how great of an impact they can have by simply carving a little niche out of their schedule to spend some time with the kids. That is the real reason why the junior golf program is so successful. It is not because we can teach the game to the kids at the hospital regardless of the complex medical condition they are fighting. Simply put, the program is successful because wonderful people, both inside and outside the hospital, care enough to take the time to do anything they can to put a smile on the face of a child. I may be the one who presented the idea to Janine Roe and the folks at Ranken Jordan, but the reason for the week in and week out success of the program lies with each and every person who has given of their time to help a child in need. For that I cannot say "thank you" enough.