Over the past couple of months I have been asked by several people why I am not putting up new blog posts as frequently as I was in previous years. The simple answer to that is it is golf season and I am a PGA Professional. However there are also those days when I sit down at the computer with the intent of writing a new blog post and my feeble little mind goes completely blank. Then there are the times like the topic I am going to attempt to write about in this post. Quite often I will see or hear something at Ranken Jordan that I immediately think I want to write about. However after a bit of thought I realize that I do not possess the ability to adequately discuss that particular topic. That is the case with this one but I am going to give it a shot anyway.
A couple of months ago I was at Ranken Jordan one evening for an event celebrating the 10th anniversary of being in their current building at 11365 Dorsett Road. During that event Ranken Jordan's President & CEO, Lauri Tanner, and the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Nick Holekamp, gave amazing speeches. Every time I hear them speak I am blown away by their eloquence and passion for helping medically complex children. That night one of them discussed the significance of the address and I have thought about it daily since hearing the explanation. I mentioned that address just a few sentences earlier: 11365. What is so significant about those 5 digits? Think about it for a minute. 1 mission, 1 child at a time, 365 days a year = 11365. Want to know what Ranken Jordan does and what makes them so unique? You can see it on the side of the building every time you pull into the parking lot.
Hopefully our junior golf program lives up to that lofty standard. I certainly hope that it does. In the weeks and months that have followed hearing that explanation while in the PHRS gym at Ranken Jordan, I have frequently reflected back on the past 4 1/2 years since we started the junior golf program. While my opinion is slightly biased, I believe we have met, and continue to meet, that standard. One of the kids I think about was one of our "regulars" a couple of years ago. Because of a recent surgery he was confined to his hospital bed while he recovered. Many might think that would slow him down and prohibit him from playing golf. All those people would be wrong. One morning his grandmother was visiting him and she came with him to golf. She even commented to me that "he can't play golf from his hospital bed." I got a big grin on my face and said simply, "watch this." After watching him hole a few putts she was not convinced so he moved on to hitting some wedges. Apparently those wedges were not enough proof so he started hitting some drivers. That seemed to do the trick and while she looked on with a combination of pride and disbelief, she smiled and said, "my grandson is playing golf from his hospital bed."
Many of the kids come to play golf in hospital beds, wheelchairs, or walkers, and have gait belts, pulse/ox machines, casts, braces, stitches, staples, etc. We have children come to "Golf Day" with a myriad of complex medical conditions. Every one of them gets a golf club in their hands, receives instruction on how to swing the club, and then they hit some of the most impressive golf shots I have ever seen. Thousands of golf shots have been hit at Ranken Jordan and thousands more will be hit in the future. The best part of all of those shots are the smiles on the faces of the children swinging the golf clubs. When I first approached Janine Roe about starting this program we both had the same goal: put smiles on the faces of the kids. Through all of the good shots, "practice swings," and holed putts, the children have smiled. Many times while helping and watching the kids I will look at Janine or one of the other volunteers/golf professionals and just smile. Words are not necessary to convey the significance of watching Carissa bang drivers off the windows or seeing Tony make another putt. Mrs. Jordan was correct when she said "consider the children first in all that you do." I am proud to say our golf program does just that.