This month, I had the privilege of spending time at the 2019 Challenged People in Motion Golf Tournament on Thursday, August 8, 2019. Challenged People in Motion is an organization with one simple belief, which is that “everyone in life is equal and should be provided with the same opportunities”. Sound like old school Stamford? Well, it is. The cause itself represents the best of what people can aspire to, and as August’s Main Event, it showed that off in spades.
A Moment in the Limelight
Challenged People in Motion featured their stars that Thursday… people with challenges, or “athletes”, who struggle just to do basic things. The are all saddled with far greater difficulties than our slashing swings, or our jittery putting strokes… and in spite of their birth handicaps, they work diligently to improve their skills at interacting, and getting through their day unhurt. I saw a lot of big hearts, feelings of sentiment, and hopes, dreams and aspirations. It was their day in the sun, and a fine day it was!
This year’s Challenged People in Motion Golf Tournament was a piece of cake to cover. Anyone could have used a pinhole shoebox camera and the photos would sparkle. Beautiful people, inside and out, were making the job easy. It was fine day to take pictures because these gracious, courageous people were glorious, good-looking, kind-hearted, and welcoming.
The athletes, as Challenged People in Motion are called, spend every Wednesday night at Sterling Farms using golf as a means of sorting through their physical and intellectual challenges. They have increased levels of stress, because they are impaired. Imagine life’s difficulties, compounded with more worries, such as a lack of motor skills, or an inability to form a sentence, or difficulty enunciating, or a suboptimal body. Imagine the stress of an event, all set-up for you, everyone dressing you up, throwing you out into the limelight, with cameras! That dreaded man with the camera. Would it stress you? Of course it would.
That is what I saw in the eyes of many Challenged People in Motion athletes. They saw that camera coming from a mile, just like we all see Marshall Barry, or Woody. Just like us, their grip tightened, like us they probably felt the sweat on the back of their necks, and wanted desperately to show the world how much they had practiced.
If we were in their shows, it would be flub-a-dub… dub. Our bodies would spasm, we’d twitch, our balance would be off-kilter, and we’d reverse pivot ourselves and everyone would see us running away from the target. Our performances, in front of others, are usually dismal.
Not so with the Challenged People in Motion athlete/champions I saw on Thursday, August 8, 2019. These athletes made a good showing, and proved their summer preparations were fully, incontrovertibly, and indubitably worth every effort. In short: they did swimmingly. I challenge and of YOU to do better!
Challenged People in Motion is a charitable organization that was formed over 20 years ago for the sole purpose of using golf as a means of helping people who were born with handicaps that have nothing to do with them, just the hand they were ‘dealt’.
Make no mistake about it, the whole of it is about the athletes, and getting them the help they need to manage their difficulties. Golf provides so much stimulation… it involves motor skills, dexterity, social interaction, etiquette… the list goes on. Money donated, or collected via the event silent auction, entries, etc., is used to buy equipment, give these athletes a few awards, and pay for an annual dinner.
Golfers to the core, the Challenged People in Motion athlete/champions have played at this golf course for a long time, certainly longer than me! On the golf course they displayed bravery, courage, and kindness. Volunteers, golfers, and a community united in their resolve to do good for others who strive to be better were all one. It was an enlightening experience, and one that touches the heart. There no losers… only winners!
Victory Can Come in Mysterious Ways
Victory can come in mysterious ways. During this month’s Main (Thursday) Event, hosted by Sterling Farms, I found Challenged People in Motion was a shining example of how winning ways can be had without a golf club in your hand. Yes, it was filled with plenty of golf, food, and fun… but the number on the scorecard was irrelevant, and victory was instead measured by actions and deeds. Self-sacrifice, compassion, heart, thoughtfulness, generosity, and love… those were the birdies and the albatross’ I witnessed. The roughly 160 people who showed on Thursday were destined to be victors. Lend yourself to one of these special occasions, and you too will discover the rewards are incalculable. Victory comes in mysterious ways.
Your road to discovering your inner champion begins on the practice tee, only it needn’t be you swinging the golf club. Every Wednesday night, at about 6 pm, people gather outside the outdoor snack bar tables in front of Zody’s. They come out each week for the entire summer, and they help the less fortunate to get through a tough life by way of golf’s inherently meaningful lessons. These volunteers needn’t be pros like Angela Aulentis, or Keith Handlers… just caring souls with the gift of kindness.
Inasmuch as our pride is great, and we cannot understand why others fail to appreciate all we endure whilst we endeavor to achive new heights, believe it or not… we have it good. In fact, we have it real good. We take for granted all we have to be thankful for.
How then might we feel if we had to give that up? How would we feel if we lacked an ability to tie our own shoes, or were unable to move the way we want, or interact as we like? How would we feel?
Well, we are very lucky, because those worries elude us. We can do all of those things, and need not worry, right? Well, try this on for size: a pause can sometimes be very rewarding. It can remind us how good our lives really are, which can be a very good thing indeed.
You see… there are lessons to be learned from those who are less-fortunate. Those who do not think of themselves as Sterling Farms Golfers, yet are morseso than I will ever be. These are the golfers who sheepishly step up to the tee, trying their all just to avoid shaming those who are there to help them. They just want to make their friends, their families, feel… it was ‘all worth it’. Imagine that?
These Sterling Farms Golfers are the real stars.
Thursdays are often reserved for ‘events’, just like this, and management blocks off the golf course for that purpose. It is a good time for golfers in search of a bargain inside one of those email blasts with the special offers we all look for….
But the read ‘deal’ is when you see what you have just contributed to, as I did, on the faces of the 160 or so participants. Sure, they were hungry, thirsty, and had a blast, but I saw them all look to the real champions—the guests of honor—and there was a glow.
This ezine/website exists to capture just a sniggling of what goes on over at the golfing pride of Stamford: Sterling Farms. It’s here all possible thanks to Stamford Golf Authority executive director Paul Grillo, and 30-year-anniversary-celebrating (this month) back office veteran Sally Sheck, who (I think) is a way-better photographer than me ;-). Nonetheless, Sally and Paul ensure that what I see, you see, and quite frankly… the Challenged People in Motion Golf Tournament was a sight worth (all of you) seeing.
It was beyond inspiring. Please show up one Wednesday evening, this month, and offer these fine people a helping hand. You’ll be so glad you did!
From the desk of Paul grillo, executive director, Stamford Golf Authority
Welcome to Sterling Farms Golfer. Over the past five decades, Sterling Farms has evolved into one of the premiere golf destinations anywhere in the region. We continually strive to maintain, if not exceed, that distinction, and know we owe it all to our Stamford families, friends and neighbors, as well as our patrons like you. Now is the best time of the year to play our spectacular 18 hole championship golf course. Our Golf Course Superintendent, Mike Golden, and his whole team, are leaders in the world of greenkeeping, and we are very proud of the quality of their hard work. I think you'll find our putting greens, fairways, tees, roughs—and every landscape feature here—reflects their devotion and hard work. It is spectacular. Sterling Farms is home to the area's top driving range facility. You won't find a better value, or level of quality, anywhere! We take great pride and joy serving you, and our local community. On behalf of all of us here at Sterling Farms, welcome and thank you!