Shriners Hospital and MIGA Golf Classic gives all kids the chance to shine
Theres no words to describe the feeling Mike Adams gets when he sees a child with physical or mental challenges - sometimes both hit a golf ball, even if its just a foot or two.
It opens up a whole new world, he says. They start to think, If I can do this what else in life, can I do what Ive already given up on? Thats what golf does for these kids.
Adams, co-founder of Mobility Impaired Golf Association (MIGA), commits his life to helping kids achieve this realization.
Our program is full time, he says. It gives kids with disabilities the opportunity to form life-long friendships, to feel included.
Inclusion may be the most important objective Adams has for these kids. And, on Friday, June 24, at Lake Oswego Public Golf Course, inclusion of so-called disabled and able-bodied golfers will feature the sixth-annual Shriners Hospital & MIGA Golf Classic.
Inclusion is a big thing for us, Adams says. What an opportunity for the Lake Oswego community to come and show their appreciations for kids and families with disabilities that are trying to learn and enjoy the game of golf.
The event is free of charge and will feature a golf clinic, western themed barbecue and a fire truck visit, and golf equipment will be provided for those in need.
MIGA, a nonprofit, provides children as young as 3 years old and young adults the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of golf. It provides equipment and, above all, attention.
Lorien Welchoff, a 16-year-old girl living with cerebral palsy that affects her legs, received a brand new set of golf clubs last summer from MIGA after graduating from Adams summer golf series, her mother Zhanna says.
His generosity inspired Lorien to golf anytime, she says. Its been a good socializing. Shes an only child, and its very challenging for these kids to find friends. ... It brings the kids out in the community.
Lorien started playing golf four years ago after hearing about MIGA through Shriners Hospital.
It gives her an opportunity to exercise and thats always a challenge to get her to exercise, says Erik Welchoff, Loriens father. It helps her focus. It helps her a number of ways.
Bryten Hoffmann, 13, has been playing golf for three years now through her severe osteogenesis imperfecta, also called brittle bone disease.
(Adams) invited her to come out and try it, and she fell in love with the driving range, Teryl says of her daughter. Its been amazing. Its something she can do with her own ability level. She improves every time she goes.
The LO public golf course is an ideal site for the tournament, Adams says, especially for those suffering with physical limitations.
You couldnt design a better course in America than this course for kids with disabilities, he says. And there is nobody who has been better for MIGA than the manager here, Tom Mueller. Tom makes sure the kids with disabilities in our program get the same opportunity.
At the LO public golf course, kids of all abilities practice with devotion.
Ive never seen individuals who love to hit golf balls more than children and adolescents with disabilities, Adams says. I mean they hit bucket after bucket, and its tiring.
But more importantly, they feel welcome.
One of the big things is belonging, Hoffmann says. When youre growing up, you want to belong to some group or club or something. She cant do sports because of her diagnosis and being out there golfing, she belongs.
Thats huge for her to have that sense of, this is where I belong.
Hoffmann, who also uses a wheelchair, plans to give golf a try with the upcoming Shriners Hospital & MIGA Golf Classic with Bryten.
We have a lot of fun doing it going out there together, she says. Watching her improve, getting so excited to hit the ball further than she ever has, its fun just to watch her come out of her shell.
She feels comfortable there. These are her people.