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updated: 11/1/2017 4:42 PM

Freedom Golf Association's First Annual "Honor Wounded Vets 5K Run/Walk" succeeds in showing how adaptive golf is aiding vets' road to recovery

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  • Runners at the starting lineCindy Kurman

    Runners at the starting lineCindy Kurman

 
Cindy Kurman

The enthusiasm and good will were palpable at McDonald's corporate campus in Oak Brook, Illinois on Sunday, October 29 as the Freedom Golf Association's (FGA) First Annual "Honor Wounded Vets 5K Run/Walk" succeeded in drawing attention to the fact that adaptive golf is clearly helping wounded vets return to normality after their military service. The more than 100 participants conquered the 5K course to show their support for the programs of the Freedom Golf Association, which is leading the way In Illinois in bringing the joy of golf to persons with physical, emotional and developmental needs.

"The 5K Run/Walk was a terrific way to honor Veterans who have been wounded in their service to the country and to acknowledge Illinois' wounded vets, a growing number of whom have taken up golf to enjoy its many physical, emotional and social benefits," said Sally Ruecking, FGA's Vice President of Strategic Advancement. "Adaptive golf is bringing fun into the lives of people who are often left out due to their disabilities."

Cheered on by the music of the Elmhurst College Jazz Band and with welcoming remarks from E.Q. Sylvester, Chairman of FGA; radio and TV personality Bob Sirott of event co-sponsor WLS-AM radio; and Ruecking, the runners and walkers took to the track with smiles and a sense of mission. Other event sponsors included Molex LLC, Rich Harvest Farms, KF Partners LLC, and Reebie Storage and Moving.

The overall men's winner was 16-year old Matt Pierce of Alsip, Illinois, who ran the 5K course in 18:59. Second place went to Thomas Potaczek of Bensenville, IL, with a time of 19:23 and third place went to Andrew Pyle of Hinsdale, IL with a time of 22:14.

Among the women, the overall winner was Eileen Skisak of La Grange, IL with a time of 18:59. Eileen also ran in fifth place overall. The second-place women's winner was 12-year old Alexandra Two, with a time of 25:36; third place went to 10-year old Kelly Fergus of Chicago, with a time of 27:27.

Winners by age group were:

• Male 10-14: James Mercurio, Hinsdale, IL

• Male 15-19: Thomas Mercurio, Hinsdale, IL

• Male 20-24: Ben Landress, Chicago, IL

• Male 30-34: (1st) Michael Bellino, Villa Park, IL; (2nd) Nick Bada, Villa Park, IL

• Male 45-49: (1st) Jim Mercurio, Hinsdale, IL; (2nd) Carmelo Aguinir, Joliet, IL

• Male 50-54: (1st) Bob Fergus, Chicago, IL; (2nd) Ross Hurst, Clarendon Hills, IL; (3rd) Randy Pyle, Hinsdale, IL; (4th) Roger Keys, Northbrook, IL

• Male 65-69: (1st) Jerome Getter, Oak Park, IL; (2nd) John Kosmatka, Valparaiso, IN; (3rd) Karl Johnson, Woodridge, IL

• Male 70-74: James Smith, Clarendon Hills, IL

• Female 15-19: Maria Meyer, Hinsdale, IL

• Female 40-44: Lori Kosmatka, Chicago, IL

• Female 45-49: (1st) Kimberly Mercurio, Hinsdale, IL; (2nd) Arlinda Nunez, Hinsdale, IL; (3rd) Christine Two, Wilmette, IL

• Female 50-54: (1st) Joy Hyzny, Burbank, IL; (2nd) Christie Bellino, Villa Park, IL

• Female 55-59: Jud Hrad, Chicago, IL

• Female 60-64: Sue Shepard, Elmhurst, IL

• Female 65-69: Carol Raska, Oak Park, IL

Freedom Golf Association leads the way in bringing adaptive golf to Illinois and is an integral part of the growing national movement, which has been embraced by major golf entities such as the PGA, LPGA and USGA.

"Freedom Golf Association encourages corporations with cause marketing programs that help the disabled to become FGA sponsors or corporate foundation grant providers and help us grow," said Ruecking.

About Freedom Golf Association

Freedom Golf Association (FGA), a 501(C)3 non-profit charitable organization, is the leading adaptive golf organization in Illinois and is a charter member of the United States Adaptive Golf Alliance. FGA was founded in July 2012 by Edmund (E.Q.) Sylvester. E.Q. is a director of the Western Golf Association (WGA), member of the United States Senior Golf Association (USSGA), member of the United States Golf Association (USGA) and a triple amputee. FGA is dedicated to bringing joy and a sense of freedom to the special needs community through their inclusion in the game of golf.

FGA believes that all special needs individuals deserve a chance to accomplish the same things as any others do and work towards bringing a positive transformation to their lives. FGA contributes to the positive development of those with special needs through the magic of golf.

FGA works to assist individuals with disabilities in many ways:

• Provides professionally run adaptive golf instructional clinics and golf events

• Engages children, adults and veterans with special needs in FREE adaptive golf instruction with other classmates

• Conducts adaptive golf training workshops to increase the number of qualified adaptive golf coaches to instruct individuals with special needs

• Provides leadership and collaboration with nationally recognized organizations on how to expand/grow adaptive golf programs

Based on its growing understanding of the needs of disabled golfers, the FGA has developed a ground-breaking Adaptive Golf Enhancement Program™ that increases the golfing ability of special needs golfers. FGA's golf coaches learn this six-step process, which helps them better understand and enhance the capabilities of special needs golfers.

To assist coaches and special needs golfers in determining what adaptive measures would be most beneficial, FGA recently invested in what they call a "personal swing sensors and computerized program" to 1) measure the disabled golfer's initial swing path and limitations; 2) develop an appropriate exercise program to improve flexibility and range of motion; and 3) to chart the golfer's progress, using the initial swing measurements as a baseline.

In 2016, FGA provided more than 1,300 adaptive golf lessons. In the same year, 110 special needs golfers went out and played on the course. Ten individuals became trained FGA Adaptive Golf Coaches, growing the total number to 42.

79 cents out of every dollar received goes to FGA's special needs golf programs and events. FGA has led 40 Chicagoland courses in becoming accessible to the disabled community.

For more information about the Freedom Golf Association, please visit the official website at www.fgagolf.org and the online newsroom at www.newsline360.com/freedomgolfassociation. Contact FGA by phone at 855-342-4465 or 630-455-6018, or by email at playgolf@fgagolf.org. Donations to Freedom Golf Association can be made at www.fgagolf.org/donate.html.

Follow FGA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FGA4Golf. Follow FGA on Twitter at www.twitter.com/FGA4Golf.

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