For Dominique and his mother Heidi, golf was a sport that seemed out of reach, a mental game with so many skills for an intellectual disabled teen.
But come out to the Spallumcheen Golf and Country Club on a Tuesday evening and the Vernon Special Olympics athletes will tell you a different story.
“I had no clue that my son would be able to play this sport, he loves it and doesn’t want to stop when the session is done,” said Heidi Borgeaud.
Twelve athletes, ranging from age 17 to 55, come out to the driving range and putting green every Tuesday night and prepare themselves for the grand finale this season, the Charity Golf Spectacular, a fundraiser for Special Olympics June 17, 18 and 19.
“It is amazing to see those golfers come out and practise with a determination and mental strength that is sometimes hard to find,” said Spallumcheen head professional Al Pisch, who personally gives individual lessons during the one-hour long session. “I didn’t know how much fun this would be and how these athletes change my perspective on life. They lighten up my otherwise stressful day and on my way home I have their smiles in my mind, and a big one on my face!”
Golf is a demonstration sport in the Special Olympics national program and is becoming a favourite among the athletes.
“We hope that the Charity Golf Spectacular will open more doors for our team, attracting awareness and more members,” said Karen Truesdale, Special Olympics Vernon golf coordinator, and a Spall club member. “Competing in tournaments is the ultimate goal for all athletes. The sport is pricey and without the donation of equipment from supporters and lessons from Spallumcheen Golf and Country Club it would not have happened.
“The integration as members into this golf community does amazing things for our intellectually disabled athletes. The social aspect of it is priceless.”
The fundraising event also includes a banquet dinner on June 17 at Temptasian Restaurant with guest speakers such as Howie Meeker, Tom Renney (Edmonton Oilers’ head coach) and Barry Trotz (Nashville Predators’ head coach).
For information about the golf tournament, see www.vernongolfspectacular.com and for all other Special Olympic programs in Vernon, seewww.sobcvernon.ca