In the city of St. Louis the number "6" is a very well known and important number. Most people in the metropolitan St. Louis area know why that is. They know that it represents class, dignity, respect, humility, sincerity, and too many more positive traits to list. The number six also represents "baseball's perfect warrior [and] baseball's perfect knight." Six is the number that Stan Musial wore throughout his 22 year career with the St. Louis Cardinals. There are few players in the history of Major League Baseball who were better or more respected players than Mr. Musial. Around St. Louis he is still revered, even more than four years since his passing.
For one day, however, the number six will have an additional important meaning to me. It will mean more than the pitcher turned outfielder turned first baseman who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969. On May 10, 2017, the number six will represent the number of years since our first junior golf clinic at Ranken Jordan. Think about that for a minute. Six years equates to 312 weeks of golf clinics for the medically complex children at this unique, miraculous pediatric bridge hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. Many of those weeks have included more than one clinic or has seen the kids asking therapists to get the golf clubs out at other times.
The children come to golf in hospital beds, wheelchairs, using walkers and gait belts, requiring ventilators, and many other "training aids" that will not slow them down. Many of the kids that have enjoyed learning how to play golf have always been told they could never do it. However one look at the smiling faces and hearing the laughter will tell you they do not believe that! There are hundreds of stories I could tell about the kids learning how to play golf and utilizing it as a healing tool. But the things that I always like to share the most are the smiles, laughter, and looks of pure joy as they hit that first solid shot.
While it is true that I initially approached Janine Roe at Ranken Jordan with a crazy idea and no clue of how to make it work, a program like this would not have a chance of being successful without the help and support of many people. If I began naming names I would undoubtedly exclude someone -- to anyone who has helped at a clinic, volunteered, donated, encouraged, shared pictures or blog posts with their friends, etc., THANK YOU!. However I do want to tell everyone what amazing people Janine Roe and Lauri Tanner are. It is an honor to be able to call them friends and work with them. Ranken Jordan is fortunate to have both of these incredible ladies and they are fortunate to have Ranken Jordan. To Janine and Lauri -- thank you is not enough but I hope you both know how special I think you are. Oh, one more thing, I am going to keep coming until y'all tell security not to let me in anymore!
Then there are the kids. As I sit here typing this I find myself struggling more than usual to find the words to describe how incredible the children are. Each and every one of them has made a life-long impression on me and all of them provide daily inspiration. As those around me have heard countless times, there simply is no greater feeling than putting smiles on the faces of the children at Ranken Jordan. Every day when I walk out the doors and to my car, I leave with the knowledge that I got far more from the clinic than I could possibly give to the kids. The first six years have provided far greater success than any of us could have ever imagined. Here's to six more years of "considering the children first in all we do."