Nine-year-old Briley Ewell was poised as she swung her golf club Wednesday at the Oakmont Country Club driving range in Corinth.
“Very nice,” said her coach, Mary Lou Cocker, a professional golfer who has played on the LPGA Tour.
Briley is training to participate in KidSwing, a golf tournament that raises funds for the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas.
She isn’t a patient, but she’s spent a lot of time there alongside her cousin and best friend, Emmy Raney, who was born with spina bifida and had her left leg removed last year.
Briley wanted to participate in the fundraising tournament because “they let patients come for free,” she said.
The Dallas hospital is among the nation’s leading pediatric centers for treating orthopedic conditions, as well as related neurological disorders and learning disorders.
And patients receive treatment, whether the family can pay or not.
KidSwing was started by one of the hospital’s patients who wanted to give back.
Tournaments will be held in Dallas, McKinney and Trophy Club in June, July and August.
This year the hospital is expecting close to 500 kids to participate, Stephanie Brigger, vice president of development at the hospital, said in an e-mail.
Briley and Emmy are on a team with two other girls from Denton, Abby Gieseke and Sarah Thompson.
Abby, who was born without her left hand, played in the tournament last year and decided to do it again this year.
“You get to bring friends, and it’s really fun,” the 9-year-old said. “Anybody can play.”
The hospital made Abby’s prosthesis to help her hold the golf club, but she doesn’t always wear it. She also can play tennis with it. That’s the sport she’s thinking of trying next.
Abby wasn’t worried about learning how to play golf.
“I knew I could do it,” she said. “Scottish Rite [Hospital] has taught me I can do anything.”
The hospital also made her a prosthetic for riding horses so she could hold on with both hands.
Emmy wasn’t as sure as Abby.
The active 10-year-old, who is involved in gymnastics and soccer, didn’t know if she would be able to walk after her surgery. Prior to surgery she had to wear a brace on her leg.
“Mom and Dad never thought I could walk or play golf, but now I can,” Emmy said.
Her doctor made it work, she said.
Since her surgery last year, Emmy wears a prosthetic leg that Scottish Rite Hospital fit her for. In fact, she has two — one with glow-in-the-dark stars on it and one with sharks.
She has a pair of shark socks and jokes that “a shark bit my leg off,” she said.
The four girls from Denton are having fun learning to play golf and preparing for the upcoming tournaments.
It was 10-year-old Sarah’s first time to play golf at the driving range Wednesday.
“Abby, did you see that?” Sarah said. “It went in the air.”
“Oh, really?” Abby responded. She gave Sarah some pointers.
Abby’s favorite part is the long shot because “you get to make it go so far,” she said.
All of the girls are raising money as part of their participation in the tournament. Players are encouraged to raise at least $100.
Since its start in 2003, the tournament has raised more than $1.2 million for the hospital, Brigger said.
This year, she said, the funds will help pay for the renovation of Allan Shivers Park, a play area for the patients located across the street from the hospital.
Emmy and Briley have each raised more than $1,000.
They are training under the direction of Crocker, who was a golf professional for 47 years.
Golf is a sport that can be adapted to the individual, Crocker said.
She started teaching juniors about 13 years ago through the hospital’s Learn to Golf program, which introduces young patients to the game.
“It’s so rewarding because it’s like watching someone unwrap a Christmas present you bought,” she said.
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.
ON THE WEB
For more information on the KidSwing team, visit the girls’ pages:
Emmy Raney: http://community.tsrhc.org/emmyraney
Briley Ewell: http://community.tsrhc.org/brileyewell
Sarah Thompson: http://community.tsrhc.org/page.aspx?pid=463&tab=0&frsid=794
What: KidSwing Night at Cici’s Pizza in Denton
Where: Cici’s Pizza, 2219 S. Loop 288
Details: Customers who mention KidSwing will have 10 percent of their receipts donated to the golf tournament, which raises funds for the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas.
On the Web: http://kidswing.org