Published on Nov 14, 2012
For some, golf is a passion, for others it seems, as the saying goes, a good walk ruined, but rarely is it considered to be a means of therapeutic exercise. For years, Fore Hope has been helping people struck by illness or injury play golf, whether or not they've ever played before.
Fore Hope is "a therapeutic golf program to enhance quality of life for persons with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses," explains Mindy Derr, the organization's Founder and Executive Director.
Derr says that, "Our participants are here in Central Ohio and they come from referrals from hospitals, support groups, stroke support groups, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, they are people of all ages."
Inspired by her father -- who became disabled very soon after retiring in the early 1980s -- and his love of golf, Fore Hope shows people that no matter whether they have an injury, a disability, or have had a stroke, the game of golf is a wonderful way to rehabilitate and socialize.
Derr founded Fore Hope in 1989 and after first having success in Northern Ohio, on the banks of Lake Erie, she decided to move the nonprofit down to Central Ohio, based in Columbus, "where we could serve more people and raise more dollars," she explains.
When asked why she chose golf as a basis, Derr says, "Why not golf? Because golf is most amenable to people of all challenges in life socially, cognitively, physically and just by activity alone, and being outside, you improve one's life."
"As a lover of golf and growing up with a family history, first of all, it's in our DNA, and there's no way I could ever walk away from the game, it's just in our blood. And it's just the best sport that there is. It challenges you as an individual and also I think as a team."
Fore Hope's activities include a weekly league where, one-on-one, volunteers accompany the participants while they play a few holes. They are also accompanied by a golf pro and a recreational therapist who make sure to keep their golf game and therapy at the highest levels.
In the summer, they have sessions on the driving range, which switch to an indoor facility in the winter so people are able to continue practicing year-round, and they also run clinics in local nursing homes and hospitals.
Much of Fore Hope's success is due to its team of volunteers who go our each week during the leagues or who help out at the practices and clinics. They are also partnered with local golf courses that allow them to use their facilities and courses for league days.
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