My name is Charles Wright. I would like to start by telling you how much The First Tee has done for my child.
I recently began spending time with my eight year-old daughter, whom I had not seen since she was about a year old. When we began our visits, she had a great deal of difficulty concentrating and completing tasks. I had been told that she was on the autism spectrum and I should not expect her to respond to concepts in the usual “kid way.”
After buying her many of the regular toys that kids her age have, I became frustrated as she always lost interest quickly. In August I was having a pretty bad day and decided to go hit some balls at the local driving range. While I was doing this my daughter said, “Hey Dad, can I try?” I went into the clubhouse and borrowed a few junior clubs and let her give it a try. She immediately showed an interest and much excitement when she hit the ball.
When we were finished, as we were walking to the truck, a gentleman who was hitting balls told me about The First Tee’s junior golf program. I filled out the application, but was having trouble coming up with the money as I was recovering from a work-related back injury. I called the number and spoke with Billy Gibbs, who is the programming director of The First Tee of Central Coast in California. He informed me that there was a scholarship available and to bring her to the next class. I cannot tell you enough how much that day changed my daughter’s life.
When she began golfing, she was reading at an early second grade level (34 words per minute). When she was retested, she read 72 words per minute. She has changed in so many ways. I do not know if it is the magic Billy has with kids, or the focus and confidence she has gained through golf, but she is not the same child.
She now runs, plays, and makes friends everywhere she goes. She constantly wants to go hit balls, practice putting at home and clean her golf clubs. In short, I just want to thank you all for providing this opportunity for my child. Billy is the greatest and I feel he, and golf, have rescued my daughter.