Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Golf Tourney '09

Interestingly enough, one of my previous jobs included working at golf tournaments every six months. Our company and hosted golf tournaments designed specifically for executive schmoozing at trade shows. The executive schmoozing, in itself, makes it even more amusing that it was my job to be there. At that point in my job history, I owned one suit and it was the one I interviewed in.

My role was as a magazine editor and the tournaments allowed me the opportunity to meet execs of companies we might profile. But it was mostly an escape from the fluorescent lighting and concrete floors of the convention center. And it was an opportunity to spend the day with the professional golfer hired to amuse and gladhand the execs.

The best of the bunch was David Fehrety, also known as "the sharpest wit in golf," who writes for Golf magazine and does commentary for CBS. How can you not like a guy whose tagline on his web page says "Raising potty mouth to a third-grade level"? Definitely one of the more humorous people on the planet. Classic line was one of the (clueless) execs asked him where he got his Ryder Cup bag. "Well, you have to be a pretty good golfer to be in the Ryder Cup."

These days I go to one golf tournament a year, now as a volunteer. This week was the 7th Annual W.L. Butler Construction tournament to raise money for the March of Dimes. This was my fifth year volunteering and this time @ and x came with me as "ambassadors." It's always amazing -- and gratifying -- to see that people who can, will write big checks for a good cause.

Part of our role this year was to give a speech at the dinner and auction.
Last time I gave a speech like this and X was holding @, @ peed on him.

Peanut gallery: Pee @, Pee!!!

@ and his twin brother were born 14 weeks early and weighed less than two pounds each. @'s brother lived only an hour. Today you see a wicked smart little guy about to start first grade.

After he was born, @ spent 110 days in intensive care, had heart sugery, eye surgery, and two hernias repaired. He racked up a $1.4 million hospital bill. The hospital was the most dramatic part of his journey but it was just the beginning.

@ came home on oxygen and spent his first year home leashed to an oxygen tank we named Hank. Anytime we left the house, we had to bring smaller tanks -- known as Hank Jr. -- with us. @ had a long list of doctors -- pulmnologist, urologist, neurologist, gastroenterologist, opthalmalogist...

He went through two years of weekly speech therapy before he spoke. Now, well, it's definitely not a problem. Quiet... That's the challenge now.

Until a year ago, @ couldn't eat solid food. As slowly as he was growing, his tonsils grew three times as fast and prevented him from swallowing real food. Once he had his tonsils removed, he could eat. The difference was amazing.

We put him in a private kindergarten in case he had to go through it twice. Despite the seizures at birth, the speech delays, and the predictions of the best doctors around -- @ aced kindergarten and starts first grade in two weeks.

His challenges now are harder to see, but he still has a few. The prematurity affected his growth hormones and he's much smaller than other kids his age. Because his hormone levels aren't normal, there are other potential health impacts as well. We now face a decision about daily injections to get the levels right. And let me tell you, this kid will put up with a lot, but he is definitely not fond of needles.

But thanks to an amazingly tough spirit, excellent doctors, and treatments developed through March of Dimes-funded research, @ is here today to thank you and ask for your continued support of the March of Dimes.

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