MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- -- More than 20 Marines from the II Marine Expeditionary Force Wounded Warriors Barracks and several community volunteers gathered at Paradise Point Golf Course on Camp Lejeune, July 25, to reap the benefits of Camp Lejeune’s 2006 Marine Corps Celebrity Invitational tournament, which raised more than $82,000 – twice the amount collected last year.
The money raised by the MCCI was divided among three local charity organizations, with the majority of the money, $41,500, going to Disabled Sports U.S.A. for its Wounded Warriors project. Project CARE received $8,300 and Jacksonville’s United Services Organization accepted $33,000.
Disabled Sports U.S.A. used some of its proceeds to purchase and donate a modified golf cart with hand controls and a swivel seat to the Wounded Warrior Barracks. The cart should enable Marines to play golf despite any injury, said Kirk M. Bauer, executive director of Disabled Sports U.S.A.
In addition to the generous donation from Disabled Sports U.S.A., the Wounded Warriors also received eight sets of golf clubs from Cleveland Golf Company, Inc.
To ensure Marines were on top of their golf game, A.J. Bonar, head teaching professional at A.J. Golf School in Carlsbad, Calif., flew from San Diego to Camp Lejeune and spent three days with the Wounded Warriors to share his golfing tips.
Playing golf is something Marines of the Wounded Warrior Barracks are becoming accustomed to, said Lance Cpl. Brandon Love, who has been a member of the barracks since it was founded in Nov. 2005.
“It’s something we do for fun,” Love said. “Even if we’re not very good, we’re all competitive.”
Bauer said it is important the wounded veterans stay active in some form of friendly competition, and the benefits of playing such sports as golf are twofold. “First, it gets them out of the hospital. They have a good time and do something physical,” he said. “Second, it helps their therapy.”
By actively using the muscles and motion that golf requires, Bauer said the warriors should gain needed strength, greater range-of-motion and flexibility.
While wounded Marines are familiarizing themselves with the game of golf, the generosity of the community and the nation still amazes some.
“It blows my mind when people do this,” said Lance Cpl. Zachary O’Grady, Wounded Warrior, II MEF, who was injured by a car bomb in September. “You’re always hearing about the negative things. Then you see, first hand, the good things, the good people. It means a lot.”
Marines, dressed in shorts and polo shirts, attacked golf balls at will and sent hundreds of them downrange. While their laughter and the golf club’s distinct ping seemed to play in cadence, the warriors appeared healthy, jovial and almost like a tougher version of Tiger Woods.