SPRINGFIELD – No child should feel excluded – especially when it comes to a physical or mental disability. That’s why Springfield’s Tom Chesnut partnered with The Arc Lane County to host a charity golf event centered around raising money and support for children with disabilities.
The event, which will take place on Oct. 6 at 9 a.m. at Pine Ridge Golf Club, was inspired by a recent tragedy to one of Chesnut’s close friends.
“I have a friend who was a zero-handicap golfer until a couple years ago,” Chesnut said. “Coming home from a golf tournament, he was involved in an auto accident, which left him having his left arm removed. Since then, he’s worked really hard and overcome an awful lot of adversity. To this day, he plays golf with one arm and still beats me.”
The tragic event and his friend’s positive reaction toward it inspired Chesnut to organize the Tee 1 Up Fore the Kids event. Seeing the amount of adversity his friend was able to overcome and still excel at golf, Chesnut was inspired to help able-bodied people appreciate just how difficult even a relaxing activity like playing golf can be to someone with a disability.
“I said ‘We’ve got to start and create a golf tournament where everyone has to play with you just once. So they will understand what it is to overcome adversity,’” Chesnut said. “But we have to have something bigger than us just playing golf. So what we realized is that, in our area, there is a rather large need for alternative recreational opportunities for the kids who are disabled, who can’t get out there and play ball and do the stuff that able-bodied children can.”
The Arc Lane County – an organization focused on creating better lives for those with intellectual or developmental disorders – advocates for the civil rights of people with disabilities, aiming to ensure they are supported in the communities in which they live. The organization provides support for adults and children with disabilities in many different ways; one of its main focuses though, is providing support for adults and children to participate in recreational activities.
Tee 1 Up Fore the Kids is a perfect example of the organization doing just that. The event is centered around 16 to 18 teams of four, with each team member playing their own ball on each hole.
The catch, however, is that one member of each team will be playing the entirety of their hole with just one arm. This stipulation will last all 18 holes and the team member playing with one arm will switch as the teams move from hole to hole, so everybody gets to participate in the challenge.
“The idea is that every individual, at least four or five times through the golf tournament, will play a single hole with one arm,” Chesnut said. “It’ll give people the idea of what it is to truly be less than able, and get that empathy for them so they understand what it’s like.”
Despite this event being intricate, this was a “spur of the moment” idea from Chesnut while he and his buddy were getting drinks. Chesnut said he wants to create his own non-profit and raise more money next year, and partnering up with The Arc for this year was the best way to put the event on.
“I thought as long as we got at least established this year, that it’s something that will be ongoing. It’s something that gives me an opportunity, at the beginning of next year, to come to people and say, ‘This is what we’ve created, this is what we’ve got thus far. How can you help us take this further?’” Chesnut said.
The event will be open up to anyone who wants to support, or in Chesnut’s words, “to anyone who wants to experience the joy of giving to those who are less fortunate than ourselves.”
To sign up for the tournament or donate money follow this link: tinyurl.com/Tee1UpForeKids