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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Wheelchair? No problem!

Therapist: Does she want to play golf today?

Father: My daughter is in her wheelchair and can't stand up well enough to play golf.

Me: That's not an issue at all. She can play right from her wheelchair.

Therapist: Yes, we'll go hand-over-hand with her if that makes it easier, but she can definitely play.

Father: Really? She can do that?  I don't see how she can play golf from her wheelchair.

Me: Absolutely! We've had kids play from their hospital bed. If she wants to play, we'll make sure she has fun.

Father: She's smiling so that means she wants to play. Let's get her started!

This conversation occurred about a month ago prior to our weekly junior golf clinic at Ranken Jordan.  Similar discussions tend to happen on a fairly regular basis.  Sometimes it it with a parent or family member, like in this case.  Other times it is with a friend, volunteer, or just someone who comes in the golf shop and asks questions about the junior golf program at Ranken Jordan.  I always enjoy talking with and educating people about how golf truly is a sport for everyone.  It adds icing on the cake when those same people get to see first-hand just how well the kids play golf from their wheelchairs, hospital beds, walkers, or with other medical equipment.

As has been covered multiple times on this blog, many of the children at Ranken Jordan have always been told they cannot do something because of their complex medical condition.  When I make presentations about the junior golf program or talk to others around the country about it, they share many of the same type of stories.  People of all ages who have different abilities are, unfortunately, routinely told that they cannot participate in a sport as a result.  My response to the people who incorrectly tell someone they cannot participate is typically, "oh yeah, watch this!"

There are two expressions that I will never tire of seeing as long as I am fortunate enough to work with the amazing kids at Ranken Jordan.  Both of those expressions were on display just a few swings after the conversation this blog post began with.  The first expression, and my favorite, is the big smile and look of pure joy on the face of the child.  They are having fun being a kid, playing, and doing exactly what any other child would be doing.  There is no greater feeling than putting a smile on the face of a child.  The second expression is the look of sheer awe on the face of the person who did not necessarily believe that a child could play golf from their hospital bed, wheelchair, walker, etc.  You can always tell when the light goes off in their mind and they become true believers that the kids can play golf and be included.

The ability of the kids will be on full display this coming Monday, July 24, at the annual Ranken Jordan golf tournament held at Norwood Hills Country Club.  Prior to the event, our Legends of Golf will hit ceremonial tee shots to officially start the tournament.  After hitting those inspirational tee shots, three of the kids will then play in the golf tournament.  There will be plenty of big smiles on the faces of those children just as there will be plenty of looks of awe on the faces of the 288 golfers in attendance.  I look forward to both!