The Game of Life

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Seeing green. Photo: JH.

Monday, August 1, 2022. Nice quiet weekend in New York with temps in the high 70s up to the mid-80s, and not so much humidity most of the time. Today’s Diary is the total creation of JH who was inspired by his proclivity for the game of golf.

I’ve never been a player. Once back in the college days while visiting a roommate in Pittsburgh, we went to play golf — his idea, not mine. I quickly learned it isn’t a sport where you just pick up a club and swing it like baseball or tennis. Uh-uh. It’s a forever game where the golfer continually works on his or her ability or talent. The only thing I recall about that game in Pittsburgh was my friend later reporting to me (at least half-joking of course) that they were still talking about this houseguest who dug up the course with his swing.

I don’t know about JH’s talent as a golfer but I’m fairly sure he’s very good or at least working toward that. However, this inspiration of his came from the fact that a lot of (golf matches) he’s been participating in lately have also been fund-raisers for various charities.

There are dozens if not hundreds of golf outings over the summer taking place throughout the Metropolitan area, raising real money for myriad causes, from Cerebral Palsy to heart health to food insecurity to spinal cord research. One in particular, The Reeve Golf Classic, took place this past Monday at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, NY, which as any avid golfer knows has a storied history; hosting six US Opens, most recently the 2020 US Open (Tiger ranks it among the most difficult courses he’s played).

Proceeds from the Golf Classic benefit the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s mission of curing spinal cord injury by advancing innovative research and improving quality of life for individuals and families impacted by paralysis.

Scenes from Winged Foot at The Reeve Golf Classic.

JH and his family have been supporting it for years as they have a family friend named Alan Brown who, in 1988 at 20 years old, was on vacation in Martinique when a wave flipped him over, causing a spinal cord injury that paralyzed him from the chest down.

Less than a year after the accident, his mother Fran, with her husband Benjy and Alan, established the Alan T. Brown Foundation.

Alan Brown with his brothers Steven and Dan, and supermom Fran, today.

Over the next three decades, the foundation provided thousands of families affected by spinal cord injury with the emotional support and critical information they have needed to pursue happy, fulfilling lives, cross barriers and achieve goals never thought possible. “Cure is just a four-letter word,” says Alan, “and as important as it is, we can’t forget about treatment and improving the quality of life of those with paralysis.”

Will Reeve, LPGA’s Karrie Webb, and Mark Messier at the 2022 Reeve Golf Classic event at Winged Foot Golf Club.

In 2019, two years after Benjy’s death, Fran decided to merge her life’s work with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, joining Alan who has served as Reeve’s Director of Public Impact since 2012. Alan is indefatigable and has played a central part in the foundation’s efforts to expand outreach across the community to offer support to families recently impacted by paralysis.

Their work continues to grow. Even as Fran and Alan reach out to the newly injured, they tend to longtime members of the community, checking in with phone calls and notes (Fran still sends handwritten ones) to make sure they know they are there.

Fran is “always one phone call away, and that one phone call has been a lifeline for thousands of people. And once they’re in, they’re in. She never lets anybody go.”

In the spirit of the game, we couldn’t resist this clip of Fred Astaire in Carefree (1938) warming up for a round of golf to an Irving Berlin original instrumental.

According to Fred, “Fooling around at Bel-Air one day, I did a few impromptu rhythm steps just before hitting one off the tee, and was surprised to find that I could really connect that way.”

And this clip brought us to another clip about the “game of life.” According to the great Bobby Jones, “Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots, but you have to play the ball where it lies.”

As for Ralph Kramden, “It’s not ’cause they like this game! It’s just to get away from their wives! That’s why they play!”


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