MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. (KMOX) – If a picture is worth a thousand words, this one is worth a million.
The best proof of all the good that a golf program is doing at a pediatric hospital comes from a photo.
Kevin Corn’s photo shows a long row of young golfers on a makeshift driving range outside the Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital in Maryland Heights.
“It was child in a wheelchair, ambulatory community kids and then a child in a walker, and then a couple more community kids and then a child in a wheelchair,” says Kevin Corn, Innsbrook Golf Pro.
Korn says “it showed the inclusive side of the game perfectly.”
That’s what his golf clinic has been doing for nearly seven years now. The PGA professional at Innsbrook Golf Club has been teaching patients, some who have spent their lives in a wheelchair and other who were victims of accidents later in life, how to swing a golf club.
Chenelle “C.C.” White, 13, never imagined herself as a golfer – thinking it was too boring. She was shot about a year and a half ago, and has been in a wheelchair ever since. But for the past year she’s been practicing nearly every week with Corn.
She’s one of about 2,400 patients that Corn says have been involved in his program.
The idea came from something similar that was being done at a Texas pediatric hospital. Corn says a clinic was held for young patients in that area just a few times a year.
“I kinda wanted to put that on steroids,” Corn says.
So he asked to set up a weekly clinic at Ranken Jordan, and on May 10, 2011, he held his first class.
The kids now perform ceremonial tee shots at the annual Ranken Jordan Golf Tournament and Corn says he’s even been able to play 18 holes with one of his first golfers from the hospital.
“I don’t know how I made it through without tears,” Corn says.
Corn has been the head golf pro at Innsbrook since March of 2014. He has held a PGA membership card since he was 18-years-old, first earning it while playing college golf at Coastal Carolina University. He says the work he’s done at the hospital has put a great perspective on his other clinics with amateur golfers.
“The kids here are facing challenges that they should never have to face, but they are and they are showing a much greater strength than I’ll ever have,” Corn says. “So to give them a reprieve, that’s really what it’s all about here.”