By Brian Wells ~
Disc golf is my favorite hobby, and I take every chance I get to play. But like most disc golf dads, family comes first. I have a wonderful wife, a four-year-old daughter, and a two-year-old son.
When our daughter came along, I knew I would have less time for disc golf. With the arrival of our second child, I expected my disc golf time to get even tighter. But when we realized that our son was born with Down syndrome, our world was turned upside down.
We had no idea he had Down syndrome until he was placed in our arms. A couple months later, he was in the hospital having open heart surgery and getting visited bedside by Santa.
Fast forward two years and our healthy two-year-old son is now meeting milestones just a bit behind developmental standards. He attends a local organization called ARC Marion in Ocala, Florida. The mission of ARC is to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities live life to the fullest, and reach for their dreams.
He spends four hours at ARC Marion, five days a week. They offer socialization training and therapies designed to help him bridge the milestone gap. He also gets occupational, physical, and speech therapy all at one location. Everyone at ARC is wonderful and they are a tremendous help to our son.
I knew I wanted to help raise money for this group, and what better way to do it than through disc golf? October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, the perfect time to put my plan into action and raise funds in honor of my son.
Each year, Discraft supports “Ace Race” events in August, September, and October. It’s a non-PDGA event that anyone can run. The event is simple to organize and priced so that running the event will yield some extra cash. I took on the role of tournament director and started promoting my event on social media.
It was a rough start and I wasn’t sure I would reach the minimum twenty players required to ship out player packs. I ended up getting twenty-five players including myself.
At the event, I offered a few opportunities to raise extra donations and when all was said and done, we donated $300 to ARC. It wasn’t a huge donation, but I was proud, and they were happy to receive it.
The event drew several players from the local clubs. But we also had some players who were throwing discs for the first time. The winner of the event took home a brand-new disc golf bag and an assortment of Discraft discs.
The mood wasn’t competitive, like a regular tournament. Everybody was just having fun. One card spent time teaching a new player how to throw. Later in the round, that player hit metal on the first throw.
I plan to run this event yearly and hope to attract more new players to the sport with a focus on getting outside, having fun, and giving back to the community.
Brian Wells is a disc golf dad from Ocala, Florida. In October 2017, he began organizing an annual disc golf event to raise funding for ARC Marion, an organization that helps people with disabilities reach their full potential.
Parked is underwritten in part by a grant from the Professional Disc Golf Association.