When the finely trimmed grass of a golf course, manicured with an engineer’s exactitude, is the backdrop to expressions of joy and gratitude from a quavering voice, and the rays of an early morning sun rebound from the Atlantic water’s edge to a glint in teary eyes, it is barely imaginable to transport yourself to the backdrop of a war-ravaged jungle or the cacophonous streets of Saigon; and it is unimaginable to think that the emotional and physical pain of the Vietnam Era conflict can be salved to any degree by the game of golf. Yet, here we are at the Lost Tree Club in North Palm Beach, fittingly Memorial Day fast approaching and a group is gathered listening – rather mesmerized by – Vietnam veteran Mary Anderson-Kokell.
“This program is awesome. It got me out of my house. It got me out of [my] depression… when I’m out here [the golf course] I don’t have flashbacks…my nightmares are gone…this program, you don’t know what it means to us [veterans],” and knowing as all courageous warriors do, that letting loose a salvo of tears is often a powerful testimony to victory rather than a flag of surrender, Mary Anderson-Kokell cried happily and thanked everyone at the inaugural H.O.P.E. charity event, which was presented by the South Florida Section of the Professional Golf Association, Raymond James and Rob Torrington.
The H.O.P.E. acronym represents Helping Out Patriots Everywhere and more than $44,000 was raised for the program, which provides therapeutic golf instruction and course time for area veterans like Anderson-Kokell, who said, “I’ve stepped out of my dark hole and onto a little bit of heaven.”
PGA professional Donna White, who has been teaching veterans the game of golf, said to all the assembled golfers, “The bottom line, regardless of how you can establish your spine angle and how your arms dangle to form a triangle, I want you to go out there today and focus on your abilities and have fun.”
Anderson-Kokell concluded her remarks by saying, “I appreciate not having that war in my head all the time. Thank you; you being here means so much to me.” Make next Memorial Day and Veterans Day a memorable one; participate in H.O.P.E.
Raymond James and Rob Torrington were H.O.P.E presenting partners. Supporting Partners included: All Star Aggregate; Auto Nation; Tito’s Vodka; and Lost Tree Club. Committee Members were Rob Torrington, Dana Middleton, Michael Roscoe, Michael Sabatello, Michael Simms and Rob Holden.
For more information about H.O.P.E., contact Meredith Schuler (561) 729-0544