Nursing Homes Compete in Latest Golf Challenge
“Good show!” exclaimed golfing legend Peggy Kirk Bell as she left the Pine Needles Recreation Center on Sunday afternoon. “That was a lot of fun.”
Her words summed up the sentiments of the 200 or so who gathered for the 2012 Nursing Home U.S. Open Summer Shootout last Sunday. It was the second event of the year dedicated to celebrating life for the elderly through a nine-hole indoor putting championship.
The event doubled in size this time to include four participating area nursing homes: ManorCare, Pinehurst Healthcare and Rehab, Peak Resources – Pinelake and Penick Village. Each facility hosted an in-house qualifying competition prior to the event. The top four finishers of each qualifying event advanced to the finals.
The competition was divided into contestants who stood and those who putted from wheelchairs.
One of the 16 finalists was Paula Stewart, of ManorCare. A former Rockette dancer in her day, Paula was used to putting on a good show throughout her career. On the morning of the championship, however, she needed a little push from Kristen Galloway, the ManorCare activities director, and now her coach, to even get on the bus.
“At first she did not want to go,” Galloway said. “I finally said, ‘I am going to find someone to take your spot.’”
The reverse psychology worked as Paula responded, “You can’t get someone else. I earned that spot.”
“Then get your butt on the bus!” Kristen replied. Her good coaching paid off.
After a first bad hole, her expert caddie, 9-year-old Winston Wrona, began to encourage Paula out of negativity and into her champion spirit. Paula aced the next hole and was in the game. She instantly came alive, making an unprecedented five holes-in-one and winning the standers division of the championship with an excellent score of 15.
Her ManorCare teammate, Martin Vamper, won the wheelers division with a stellar 13. The undaunted ampu-tee exhibited his own Olympic spirit of determination and team spirit throughout the competition with an amazing six holes-in-one.
His greatest thrill was playing in a special one-hole putting match against Bell. Vamper used to work for Pine Needles and was always in awe of the Hall of Fame champion.
“I never dreamed I would ever play golf with Mrs. Bell, let alone win the one-hole match. It is a dream come true!” remarked Vamper.
Even Bell had a chance to redeem herself after losing to Harold Fowler, the first event individual winner, in another one hole rematch. Steadying herself with her cane as she proceeded to the tee, Bell asserted, “I’m going to get you this time.” That she did, making a hole-in-one to Fowler’s two-putt.
There were numerous highlights throughout the afternoon event. The first one was a playoff for the team title. Both Pinehurst Healthcare and Rehab and ManorCare tied at 69, with Penick Village finishing third at 71, and Peak Resources – Pinelake finishing fourth with 74.
Each playoff team chose one player to putt in the playoff. Robert McCullah, of Pinehurst Healthcare, won the playoff against Vamper with a hole-in-one, taking home the team trophy. Shocked that he won, it was a huge cause for celebration for his team.
“We are so proud of our win,” said Emma Terwilliger, activities director. “Everyone at the facility is celebrating. We put the trophy on display in our lounge.”
One highlight was the presentation of trophies, many given in honor of a loved one or in memory of a loved one through the special trophy sponsorship. In addition, a competition between the nursing homes took place during the event to see who could raise the most contributions, which was won by ManorCare.
Another highlight was the presentation of the Mildred Karaman Champion of the Heart Award. Sponsored by Karaman Communications, Flowland and Lunch Box that Rocks, the award is dedicated to someone who exemplifies “faith to the finish line.” This year’s recipient was Chaplain Ken Rahal, who demonstrates the champion spirit of courage and service in the face of adversity.
Rahal, once a nursing home resident himself, has faced four bouts with cancer and more than 30 hospital visits. A driving force in the nursing home outreach in the community, Rahal was well-deserving of the award and praised the event.
“This event brings life back to the forgotten few. When people reach this stage in life, they don’t have too much to look forward to. To look around the room and see the sheer joy on people’s faces, the fresh family memories created today, and people coming alive through this simple competition — that’s what it is all about.”
Sponsors for this past weekend’s event include: Karaman Communications, Flowland, Lunch Box that Rocks, PJ’s Auto Care, James Leach State Farm Insurance, Jason’s Tire and Auto, Nature’s Own, Kalli Ziegler Properties, the Prescription Shoppe of Aberdeen, FORE Properties, Chick-fil-A;
The Darling House Pub and Grill, Sandhills Feed Supply Co., Mac’s Breakfast Anytime, New Town Center Pharmacy, Health Innovations Pharmacy, Korey Ross; Ova Jean Siemens, Betsy Spencer, Mary Ann Welsch, Realtor Eileen Malan, Carol Clark, Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club, Robert’s Golf, Tina Wrona Photography;
T-N-T Digital Designs, Mike Warthen Videography and Young Life.
Veronica Karaman can be reached at veronica@vkm. org.
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