The Mighty Logo

How I Take on Life’s Curveballs With One Hand

Life throws us all curveballs and we learn to adjust to them. Sometimes those obstacles are tough to overcome and the path to the other side may be bumpy, but we get there nonetheless.

For me, the curveball came at me the moment I was born. Having been born without fingers on my left hand, I have learned to handle physical challenges as mundane as brushing my teeth and preparing meals to more complicated tasks, such as changing my squirmy daughters’ diapers, driving a car and typing. The physical challenges, I’ve got those down. And the older and wiser I become, I’m good with the emotional obstacles, too.

My confidence regarding my disability has been tested countless times. Growing up, our family moved around every few years due to my father’s position with the Navy. This meant that from a young age I had to learn how to build rapport and develop new friendships very quickly.

The constant moving was especially difficult for me because being the new kid made me a target — and having only one hand often made me an even bigger target. I was bullied, and once, I was pushed into my school locker and trapped there for three hours. I had no choice but to accept my physical differences, and eventually I looked upon my hand as something special and unique, not ugly and odd. These childhood memories are never forgotten; however, they helped shape my character and fueled my desire to help those who face similar challenges.

As a child, I was selected to be a March of Dimes poster child where my role was to help raise awareness and funds for research aimed at preventing birth defects. Although only a child, I was proud of my responsibilities. Eventually, we moved cities and my commitment to the March of Dimes ended.

After getting married and having children, I learned to adapt to whatever motherhood threw at me. I cared for our daughters, showed them and their friends that my hand was not going to limit me, and years later, I taught myself to knit and crochet sweaters for my grandchildren by watching instructional videos and adapting to my situation.

I’ve always enjoyed sports, but tended to engage in activities that didn’t require I use both hands — until my husband, Ray, encouraged me to join him on the golf course. I searched for resources that provided special instruction and equipment that would accommodate me but found very little. I attended a few clinics, watched how the instructors taught golf fundamentals, such as grip, stance and swing, and once again, I adapted until something clicked for me. 

My love for golf has deepened (I’m known by many as the “one-handed lady golfer”), and I recently founded Adaptive Golfers, a non-profit organization that brings the game of golf to people with different abilities. In addition, I volunteer as a course marshal at The Barclays, a world-class PGA Tour tournament, which rotates courses in the greater metropolitan New York/New Jersey area each year.

When I learned about the PGA Tour Volunteer Challenge, which honors volunteers and supports charity, I jumped at the chance to participate.

The Volunteer Challenge is a friendly competition designed to raise funds for non-profit organizations while recognizing the talent, passion and commitment of PGA Tour tournament volunteers in communities nationwide. 

Please consider voting for me now by selecting my name from The Barclays volunteer list. When voting ends on August 27, the tournament volunteer with the most votes will earn the opportunity to present a $10,000 check to The First Tee of Metropolitan New York. In addition, $5,000 will be donated to the winner’s charity of choice. If I win, I will designate the funds to March of Dimes, as I am the community director for one of the New Jersey chapters (funny how decades after being a poster child, I have been brought back into the fold of this important organization.)

Resilience and perseverance have always been at the center of my being. Whether it was facing 10-year-old bullies, struggling with knitting needles or being baffled by a golf club, I knew that although physically disabled, I was able to do what I set out to do. 

Today, the curveballs that come my way tend to be little white dimpled balls, and I’m prepared to take them on.

Conversations 1