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Thursday, June 22, 2017

What Is Normal?

A few days ago I had some players come in the golf shop who had seen some of the videos and news stories about the junior golf program at Ranken Jordan.  At that time we were not overly busy and they started asking questions about it.  These were people I had never met, but I am always happy to talk about Ranken Jordan and the kids there!  As can be expected, the more we talked the more stories I told about the kids, their successes, and the infinite number of smiles.  One of the stories went back to our very first summer.  I can not recall if I have shared the following story on this blog.  If I have, please forgive me, but I think you will enjoy reading it again.  I know I always enjoy sharing it.

Those of you who regularly read this blog may recall that our first junior golf clinic at Ranken Jordan was on May 10, 2011.  I readily admit that when we started the junior golf program there I did not know what to expect.  The only thing I wanted to do was help the kids and put smiles on their faces.  Fortunately the kids, their families, and the Ranken Jordan staff were patient with me as we all learned together.  There were plenty of laughs, smiles, made putts, and long drives.  One thing that did surprise me, though, was the level of interest in the program from the parents and siblings of the patients.  It was during a conversation with the mother of one of the patients that I got my first of many lessons from the kids and their families.

While standing and watching one of our junior golfers hit great shot after great shot from his wheelchair, I was talking to his mother about her son.  During that conversation she mentioned how much fun he was having and asked me where she could buy clubs like her son was using.  There are times when I can be a bit slow in understanding things -- and this was one of those times.  I told her she could get the clubs at any golf shop or order them on the U.S. Kids Golf website.  She replied with, "no, I mean the clubs that my son is using."  Once again I gave her the same answer (told you I can be slow).  Thank goodness she was patient with me!  She politely said, "the adapted clubs he's using, where can I buy them?"  Suddenly a dim light bulb went off in my head.  I told her that the kids were all using standard U.S. Kids Golf clubs, that we did not have any adapted golf equipment.  I will never forget the look on her face or the tears in her eyes when she turned to face me and replied, "these clubs aren't adapted?  This is the first time my son has ever used something 'normal' in sports."

As I mentioned, I will never forget the look on that wonderful lady's face when she said the word "normal."  This was one of the earliest times in our program that I realized this was much more than golf.  In a wide variety of ways, the game was helping kids get better, helping families heal, and helping to bridge that transition back to home.  The game of golf was not just helping these amazing kids heal in the physical sense.  It was also helping them, and their families, heal mentally, emotionally, and socially.  I am so proud to say that 6 years later nothing has not changed.  All of us associated with the junior golf program at Ranken Jordan cherish the opportunity to introduce the kids to the game of golf and teach them how they can play regardless of their medical issues.  However what we enjoy the most, and I am certain I can speak for everyone on this, is watching the children heal and get back to living their lives to the fullest.  We do as Mrs. Jordan said, "consider the children first in all you do."

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