Shriners Patient To Play In With Top PGA TOUR Professionals
Jake Damron, 16, a patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center—Lexington from Ashland, Kentucky will have the experience of a lifetime in November when he represents the hospital at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, an official PGA TOUR event in Las Vegas this November.
Damron was chosen as one of 22 patient ambassadors throughout the country to represent the hospital network at the tournament, where he will serve as a standard bearer throughout the weekend, carrying the scores of golfers as they compete in the tournament. It is a rare “inside the ropes” opportunity at a PGA TOUR event, as well as the chance to share how Shriners Hospitals have helped transform his life.
Damron is making his second appearance as a standard bearer at the SHC Open this year. He served in 2015, and returns this year to also play in the tournament’s Championship Pro-Am.
The Pro-Am, which has raised close to $5 million dollars for Shriners Hospitals since 2008, provides the perfect platform to put patient success stories on full display. Throughout years past, patients have played entire rounds of golf with PGA TOUR professionals, participated in miniature golf putting competitions, and even closest to the pin contests.
“The main goal is to showcase the talents and abilities these patients possess while providing the understanding to those in attendance that none of this would have been possible without the care provided by Shriners Hospitals for Children,” said Adam Sperling, executive director of the SHC Open. “Our golfers – amateurs and professionals alike – will leave with incredible memories of not only the patients’ abilities, but their can-do attitude, positive outlook on life, and ever-present smiles throughout the day.
During the Pro-Am, Damron, along with a patient from the Salt Lake City Shriners Hospital will each tee off on a par 3 hole throughout the day, challenging the competitors to see who can hit it closer to the pin.
“They’ll be playing for pride, but no matter who wins, all will walk away with a better understanding of the magic that takes place inside the walls of Shriners Hospitals for Children facilities every day,” Sperling said.
Damron was born with Erb’s Palsy caused by a brachial plexus injury at birth. At age 12, Jake’s right arm began to draw up significantly. His parents, Steve and Jenny, were guided to Scott Riley, M.D., pediatric orthopaedic specialist at Shriners Hospitals for Children—Lexington. Jake, a sports fanatic, was disappointed to learn after his surgery, that, while his recovery exceeded all expectations, Dr. Riley could not give Jake his blessing to continue to play football. Instead of brooding about it, Jake quickly decided he would conquer yet another sport – football drills were quickly replaced with putting & chipping from dawn to dusk most every day.
Over the summer, Jake competed in the KY PGA Junior Tour of Champions, playing with and competing against some of the best junior players in the state of Kentucky.
A junior at Ashland Paul Blazer High School in Ashland, Kentucky, Jake not only continues with his love of golf, but is also proud to talk about his involvement in his church – First Christian Church, where he serves as a Youth Deacon.
“No matter how hopeless you may feel or difficult your situation may be, everything happens for a reason, you never know what God has in store for your future,” Damron says. “My arm may never be perfectly straight, but I am grateful for what Dr. Riley has given me…I am truly blessed.”
As part of his participation in the SHC Open, Jake’s story and photo will appear in the tournament program, and her information will be shared with the Golf Channel, which will televise the tournament nationally, to be used during the broadcast. The broadcast reaches over 700 million homes across 240 countries worldwide.
“The purpose of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open is to not only bring PGA TOUR golf to Las Vegas, but more importantly, to bring awareness to the great work of Shriners Hospitals for Children and the work those hospitals do to help transform the lives of children with orthopaedic conditions, burns, cleft lip and palate and spinal cord injuries,” Sperling said. “We thought that bringing more of the hospital’s patients to the tournament and giving them an opportunity to experience some of the best golfers in the world would be a great way to increase the involvement of the hospitals and the patients in this event.”
Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center — Lexington is a recognized leader in treating orthopaedic conditions from birth until age 18, although, in some cases, it may be extended to age 21. We provide pediatric specialty care in the areas of clubfoot, hip disorders, scoliosis, hand and upper extremity disorders, limb deficiencies, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, osteogenesis imperfecta, neuromuscular disorders, sports injuries and other orthopaedic related conditions with a goal to restore each child physically, emotionally and socially. All care and services are provided in a family-centered environment regardless of the families’ ability to pay.
Shriners Hospitals for Children is changing lives every day through innovative pediatric specialty care, world-class research and outstanding medical education. Our 22 locations in the United States, Canada and Mexico, provide advanced care for children with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate. Learn more at shrinershospitalsforchildren.org.