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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Legends of Golf

Have you ever been part of an event that had so much meaning to you, was so powerful, that you just could not put your feelings into words?  That is how I have felt since Ranken Jordan's annual golf tournament which was played almost a month ago at Norwood Hills Country Club.  Every week at Ranken Jordan something happens that leaves me speechless.  The kids and staff there do such amazing things that I am constantly seeing something that has me in awe.  However at this year's event, the largest ever with 288 players and 327 for dinner, I knew it was going to be a very special day from the second I pulled into the parking lot.

Cooper, CC, and Sam with Lauri Tanner
As has become a tradition like one other, the golf tournament started with Ranken Jordan's Legends of Golf hitting ceremonial tee shots to officially start the event.  This was the third year of the tradition and it grows more impressive each year.  Sam Ward, CC White, and Cooper Burks stepped up in front of over 200 golfers and ripped tee shots right down the middle of the fairway to perfectly illustrate how successful Ranken Jordan's "care beyond the bedside" model is.  Rather than me inadequately describe how powerful these few minutes were, please click HERE to watch the video of the tee shots.

Cooper celebrating after his tee shot
Following the tee shots I had the privilege and honor to be part of a round of golf that I will never forget.  Many of you who read this blog regularly will remember Cooper Burks and how much he has enjoyed learning to play golf.  At 13 years old, Cooper, who is a sports nut, has had 26 hip surgeries and been very limited on what sports he could participate in.  With golf, those limitations are left in the clubhouse!  During this year's Ranken Jordan golf tournament, Cooper played his very first round of golf and I had a front row seat for it as he was sharing a golf car with me.  Suffice it to say, watching Cooper play his first round of golf is the most impressive thing I have ever seen on a golf course!  Almost a month later I still have no idea how I made it through that round without shedding any tears.

Cooper's first tee shot in his first round of golf!
The speeches, stories, and videos that are told and shown during dinner are always one of my favorite parts of tournament day.  This year's video featured some of the teenagers who have been "regulars" during Golfday at Ranken Jordan.  You can watch the video HERE (this video is when I started having "allergy" issues).  Lauri Tanner, President and CEO of Ranken Jordan, and Jennifer Mull, daughter of Phil Mull (aka "the Mullster"), shared moving stories of why this tournament is so critically important to so many children and families.  However just as the round of golf did, the night belonged to Cooper Burks.  You see, at 13 years old, Cooper got up in front of a packed ballroom and delivered a speech that had everyone so captivated you could hear a pin drop.  He spoke of why Ranken Jordan was important to him, the positive impact it has made on his life and his family, and how important golf has been to him.  At this point my tears were flowing like someone turned on a faucet.  His mother took a video of his speech and I have yet to be able to watch it from beginning to end without those tears reappearing.  Should you need to know the definition of strength, perseverance, and inspiration, you do not have to look any farther than Cooper.

Every year the Ranken Jordan golf tournament is the one event I most look forward to.  It is truly an honor to be a small part of this important event.  Thank you to the entire golf committee for the year-round hard work they put in to make this tournament such a success.  Thank you to Lauri Tanner for being such an incredible friend and allowing me to spend so much time with the children.  And thank you to Cooper Burks for the honor of calling you a friend.

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