“Saving Strokes” May 15th, Harding Park Golf Course, San Francisco, CA
There are times in your life when you get to do something that has an impact on other’s lives and an even bigger impact on your own. Such was the case at this wonderful event. I got to meet some wonderful people. Some people who were living perfectly good lives until the day they had a stroke. Maura was 35 with a young child when she had her stroke, Eric was less than 30!
Reida is Persian-American who has been living with limited use of her right arm and speech limitations for ten years. I told her she looked great and that I could understand every word she said. She broke into a great big smile and thanked me! She shared with me that living with a stroke has been mentally frustrating. Knowing what she wants to say and not being able to say it is extremely frustrating and “mentally tiresome.” As far as golf, she wanted to learn how to putt. She took great enjoyment in sinking 3 out of 5 four footers and telling me about her favorite Irani food and restaurants. Upon completion of our “lesson”she gave me a big hug and told me I brought her “much, much happiness!”
Li wasn’t supposed to be able to stand up for longer than 5 minutes. You can see his walker and chair right behind him in the event he had to sit down. We started putting and Li had to sit down. That was after the first 15 minutes!! Just when I thought that Li had enough, he popped back up and putted for 15 more minutes. Li only spoke Cantonese. My “Hello” and “Thank You” in Cantonese only got us so far.
Li did teach me how to say “Very Good!” I had to after he sank 7 out of 10 putts from 6 feet!! After a putt went long, I told him he was strong. He promptly pulled up his sleeve and showed me his muscle! After 35 minutes, the big smile on his face, the repeated “Tank You” (sic), the pat on my back and multiple handshakes let me know he thoroughly enjoyed himself!
Stella is a 56 year old Filipino-American who had a stroke 8 years ago. She is restricted to a wheel chair and has limited use of her right arm and right leg. She is a veteran of the “Saving Strokes” program and has spent the last three times putting. This year Stella wanted to learn to hit the ball! I explained to Stella the best way to make a stroke with her good arm. She talked about her plane ride from the Phillipines, we talked about lumpia and other Filipino foods and she hit the ball 35 yards!! She wanted to know the exact yardage so she could tell all her friends back at the hospital all about it! Notice our picture, there is nobody in the background, Stella didn’t want to leave!! We were the last to leave the range. She said she had so much fun and that I was a great “partner!!” When all was said and done, I think Stella taught me more than I taught her!
Thank you to all of the participants and sponsors of this wonderful event. Thank you to the students, Maura, Joy, LeRoy, Cassandra, Eric, Raymond, Billy, Reida, Li, and my “partner” Stella. I second Reida’s words, after participating in this event, “I have much, much happiness!”
Bill Mykytka, PGA