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Friday, December 18, 2015

Juggling, Putting, & Jedi

During the past weeks excitement has grown for a couple of upcoming events.  People everywhere are getting more excited (or anxious, nervous, and frustrated) as Christmas draws nearer.  The other thing many people have been anxiously awaiting for 32 years is the release of Star Wars Episode VII:  The Force Awakens.  No matter where you go or what television station you have on you will undoubtedly see commercials or references to both Christmas and Star Wars.  Of course certain stores have had their Christmas merchandise out since June so it is becoming an almost year-round holiday.  About the time stores started putting out their Christmas merchandise far too early I started the countdown to December 18 when The Force Awakens would hit theaters.  However, as much of a fan of Star Wars that I am, every Wednesday afternoon I see things that are far more impressive than Master Yoda using the Force to raise Luke Skywalker's X-Wing out of the swamp on Dagobah.

Every December the National Hockey League's St. Louis Blues take one of their days off and visit the pediatric hospitals here in St. Louis.  Ranken Jordan is always one of their stops with Patrik Berglund, Brian Elliott, Jaden Schwartz, and Magnus Paajarvi visiting the kids this year.  Needless to say the kids absolutely love spending time with the players, taking pictures, and getting autographs.  Their visit this year happened to coincide with "Golf Day" so we set up a miniature golf course for the kids to play along with the Blues players.  Not that I want to brag on the kids (yes, I actually do), but none of the players beat any of the kids in the numerous rounds they played on our miniature golf course.  You can see a short video of the visit that aired on Fox 2 St. Louis by clicking HERE.  One of the children who joined the fun that day was a very cute and sweet little girl named Nora.  In the video you will see Blues goalie Brian Elliott juggling for her.  After he finished Nora showed him that she knows how to juggle, too!  Following that lesson Nora proceeded to pick up a golf club for the first time and beat him in mini golf!

The visit from the Blues and that first trip around the miniature golf course seemed to infect Nora with the golf bug.  She has been back each week and diligently works on her putting stroke every chance she gets.  Just this past Wednesday I was absolutely amazed to look around and see 6 adults enthralled with how well she was putting and how much fun she was having.  Her reactions and facial expressions are nothing short of priceless!  The pure joy and excitement she gets from seeing a putt drop into the cup is readily evident and puts a smile on the face of everybody around her. Nora kept everybody entertained as she worked and worked to improve her putting stroke . . . with the occasional break to try and throw the golf balls into the hole!  As a PGA Professional, watching her learn to enjoy the game so soon and improve so quickly is incredibly satisfying.  But what is truly rewarding is seeing her laugh, smile, play, heal, and interact with everybody around her.

Many children look most forward to the presents that accompany the holiday season.  I must admit that I also look forward to getting presents.  However the "presents" I look forward to receiving arrive 52 weeks a year, not just during the holidays.  The "presents" I am talking about are the gifts the children of Ranken Jordan give to me each and every week.  Not a week goes by that I do not leave the hospital knowing that I received far more from the kids than they will ever get from me.  I treasure the time I get to spend with children like Nora and look forward to everything she and the other kids will teach me each week.  As wise as Master Yoda was I do not think that even he could teach me what the children do.  Without a doubt, the Force is strong with the kids.

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