At this point, for regular readers of this blog, everyone should realize that the one thing I most look forward to every week is Wednesday afternoon. Most people look forward to a weekend and having the opportunity to wind down for a long week at work. However golf professionals are different. Our "weekends" typically fall at some point during the regular work week. Saturday and Sunday to us means our golf course is busy and we know we will be at work from sunrise to sunset. However I do not look forward to Wednesday afternoon because it is my normal day off. I look forward to it for the same reason as the kids at Ranken Jordan: Golf Day!
Every time I walk through the door at Ranken Jordan it is a great day. Any opportunity I have to spend time with the kids is a wonderful experience. During the past 4 1/2 years there it has become obvious that you can never know why it will be a special day. It could be something as simple as seeing one of our junior golfers smile after making a putt or the laughter that is sure to follow after they hit one of the "human targets." Other times we will watch 13 year old A.J. reach his goal of learning to walk again or over time watch Cooper progress from hitting golf balls from his hospital bed to wheelchair to walker to being steadied with a gait belt to no assistance at all. Every day there, just like each one of the kids, is special for its own reason.
Before a recent "Golf Day" got started, I looked up when I heard one of the therapists calling my name. She was bringing over one of our regular junior golfers, May, who told me she was being discharged to go home very shortly. May wanted to be certain she saw me before she left and my ear-to-ear smile showed I was thrilled that she did. Prior to her time at Ranken Jordan she had never touched a golf club. During her time there she made significant progress and told us she wanted to keep playing after going home. Every time the golf clubs came out May wanted to hit her favorite red U.S. Kids driver. To help her continue playing golf after she went home, we made sure May left with her favorite red U.S. Kids driver. While I was crouched down talking to May (I try to always do that with the kids in wheelchairs so we are looking eye-to-eye) she said she had one more thing to tell me before she went home. May got this huge smile on her face and suddenly got shy. One of the therapists who was standing there with us prompted her by asking May what her favorite part of being at Ranken Jordan was. Her response was short, sweet, and very humbling. May said "my favorite part of being at Ranken Jordan was learning to play golf."
At that point May had to go finish up a few things so she could go home. That is probably good so she would not see the tears of joy rolling down from behind my sunglasses! Moments like this will remain with me forever. They also show just how important of a role golf can play as a healing tool in the lives of children of all ages. Golf provided May with the opportunity to learn a new game that she can play for the rest of her life. It also allowed her to get extra therapy, without realizing that was happening, while smiling, laughing, and having fun with her friends. Having these wonderful memories that will be treasured forever is an indescribable feeling. However knowing that golf is playing a small role in the recovery of so many children is on an entirely different level. While May's favorite part of being at Ranken Jordan was learning to play golf, my favorite thing is watching amazing kids like May get better while learning to play golf.