I took a break from the course collecting trail today to work with kids with epilepsy (and their guardians), teaching the basics of disc golf as a way of introducing a fun, free activity that other people with epilepsy (like myself) can enjoy. It was my second time helping to offer this clinic in North Carolina, working with the wonderful folks at Epilepsy Alliance North Carolina. The event was once again blessed with BEAUTIFUL weather! Though a few of the locals questioned how I could be out on the course with only a long sleeve t-shirt and shorts on…as it was a “frigid” 45-50 degrees. Of course, I had to reply with: “I’m from Minn-ah-SOOO-tah, ya know!” 😉
It melted my heart, seeing one of the girls who attended our 2020 event, back in 2021. She had a really difficult time at the 2020 event, and had to be helped to the ground while having a serious seizure. But she came up to me this morning, smiling and talking with me. And was able to participate in a lot more of this year’s activities. I’m glad she’s doing better, as I have thought about her a lot since last May, hoping she is doing okay.
This year was a little different from last year, in that we had mostly dads with the kids who were in attendance. Last year, it was mostly moms and/or grandmothers. And one of the dads in attendance actually plays a bit of disc golf himself! Though we all teased him about sinking a 90-100 foot approach shot during the clinic. Maybe they should have him lead the 2022 clinic, since I never got closer than 5-6 feet from the basket from 100-feet away (ha). 🙂
As was the case in 2020, I think I got as much out of the event as the kids and their guardians. I got to talk about the sport I love for probably over an hour, while throwing discs and seeing rapid, dramatic improvement in those kids’ putting and approach shots after we talked about how to aim at the basket (picking one link in one chain), putting THROUGH (not to) the basket, different grips, stances, and when we got further away from the basket? Talking a bit more about the X-step. The X-step was a little harder for people to figure out! But folks kept at it, and once a few of them figured it out? Their throws were much smoother, longer, and more accurate.
After the Kids Clinic, it was time for me to hopefully not embarrass myself by playing in the fundraising C-Tier that was a part of the event. Last year, I came to the event with 3-4 subluxated ribs and an injured sternum, and still managed to win MA40. So this year, I was more than a little worried about embarrassing myself after setting the bar high! Ever since I had COVID-19 back in March, my back and right hip have hurt. With numbness/weakness in my right leg. To the point where I had a nice man in Hurricane, West Virginia ask if I needed him to call for medical assistance (as I could barely walk, and nearly fell over in the parking lot). But after driving 1,300 miles to Winston-Salem, and my friends at Epilepsy Alliance North Carolina wanting me to play in their C-Tier, I nervously agreed to play. And I ended up winning MA50 this year. Playing almost entirely mistake-free disc golf. One unlucky spit-out on a putt, and one sub-par tee shot (that my ProLine Squall covered up with my best approach shot of the tournament), allowed me to win my division by one shot. My first year of being AARP-eligible (ha), and teasing that I remain undefeated playing sanctioned tournaments in North Carolina (2-0). I actually had to make THREE 50-foot to 100-foot approach shots from one knee, through the trees! But I stuck them all within ten feet of the basket. Have I mentioned how the ProLine Squall is absolute money?! 🙂
I wasn’t there for the C-Tier, of course. I was there for the kids. As for having epilepsy, I am blessed to have very mild seizures (and I have not knowingly had a seizure since September 2019). I can only imagine how much these kids (and their guardians) are going through. And if I can hopefully brighten their lives for even one morning, sending some DGA discs home with them to play with on their local courses? It makes all that time in the car to/from Winston-Salem worthwhile.
Magic Number = 278 (1,722 Courses Played)
How it All Got Started: Tonn’s Travels >>
A main purpose of this blog will be to share information, helpful tips and tricks (everything from health and fitness to methods for saving money while you’re out “bagging courses” of your own), and ideas for better, safer course design. But I am also hoping to inspire others with my passion for the sport, via the stories I can share about all of the interesting experiences I have. All of the interesting people I meet. All of the amazing courses I am blessed to have the opportunity to play. If I can inspire even a handful of individuals to get off the couch, get “out of their bubble” or “security blanket” and explore more of this big, beautiful planet we all call home? Then I will consider this effort a success.
Derek Tonn is a member of the DGA’s Ambassador Team. His company, Mapformation, LLC, has been DGA’s partner in the development of disc golf tee signage since 2012. The longer our two companies have worked together, and the more Derek has gotten to know all the great folks at DGA, the more he has wanted to formally sing the company’s praises. The more he has realized that “Steady” Ed the father of disc golf and the modern-day Frisbee vision for the sport and his company perfectly describes his own interests and priorities related to disc golf, and the more Derek has recently been encouraged to share his story.