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*You can read more about what Team Boomer does, and how to help join the fight against Cystic Fibrosis by visiting Esiason.org or click here.
*DCU for Kids is a charitable foundation that donates to numerous organizations helping children and families.
I’ve had time to reflect on the day that I had at the 17th annual DCU for Kids charity golf tournament. I got to spend a day in the life of those privileged enough to have a membership at Sky Meadow C.C. and people who play in big tournaments with $500 gift bags you get just for showing up. I was treated to top shelf liquor and 5-star food throughout the day. I even got to meet and talk with one of the icons of the NFL that I watched on television as a young man. It was truly an incredible experience that I am extremely thankful to have had. I also have had time to think about a day in the life of someone like Gunnar Esiason. What it would be like to have to take breathing treatments and medicine so you can hopefully not have a hard time getting oxygen into your lungs. The task of eating a meal is not as simple as it is for most people, but it now has become a challenge that you must face three times a day, every day, for the rest of your life. How difficult as a parent to see your child stricken with such an affliction. It was a very moving and eye-opening experience that I am extremely thankful to have had. I’ve had time to reflect on life a little more since that day. I realize just how blessed I am. I realize how much of a fight some people are in every day of their lives. And I realize that we can do so much more to help, and that raising awareness is the first step towards that goal.
by Gregg Ford
I recently received a message from an old friend letting me know that he had an extra spot in a “pretty prestigious” tournament coming up in a few days, wondering if I’d be available to join. It just happened to fall on a Tuesday, which is my weekly golf day, so I let him know I was in. I had no idea what kind of day I was in for, and it turned out to be a day that I will never forget.
I was told to report for registration at 8:00 a.m. at Sky Meadow Country Club in Nashua. As I made my way through the typical morning traffic down Route 3 South, my mind was racing as I was trying to get mentally prepared for what lay ahead. I was about to play in a very exclusive tournament at a private course. I had heard many great things about Sky Meadow, and not a single word was an exaggeration. From the moment I pulled into the parking lot until the moment I left at the end of the day, I was thoroughly impressed. The grounds and landscaping were beautiful. The course was in fantastic shape. The staff was as friendly and pleasant as they were professional. For me, this was a place like no other I had seen.
As I got out of my truck, the young man who drove over to take my clubs was especially welcoming. He gave me a brief walk-through of some of the difficult and signature holes on the course as he loaded my bag. As he was leaving he said to me, “You’re gonna hit ‘em good today, I can feel it.” After receiving that little confidence booster, I made my way past the pool and towards the clubhouse, where upon entering, I went directly to the registration table. As soon as my name was checked off the list of participants, I was asked for my shirt size and handed me a brand new Under Armour backpack. Before I could sling it over my shoulder, another lady handed me an envelope.
A Day In The Life
After the starter’s announcements and rules for the best-ball format, my team and I made our way to our opening tee. Dan is the Worship Pastor at Manchester Christian Church, and an amazing singer and musician. Justin, a former golf pro, is now the General Manager at Not Your Average Joes restaurant in Nashua. Sean is a Marketing Coordinator for Diageo, whose clients were well-represented at the beverage stations for the tournament.
The shotgun start placed us at #14 to begin. After a few holes, we were 1 under par, and I was one thirsty fella. Right on cue, the beverage cart pulls up to our group. When I tried to pay for my Sam Adams Summer Ale, I was told that all drinks, snacks, and cigars were complimentary for the day. Another nice little surprise. Just two holes later, we came upon the Don Julio margarita tent. “Frozen or on the rocks?” Samantha asked with a smile. Rocks won out our group unanimously. After we collected our cocktails, we walked over to tee box at #1. By now, we were back to even par. Although Sean, Justin and I were playing fairly well, it was safe to say that Dan was carrying the team. After he hit a mammoth 300+yd tee shot uphill, and we pitched up to the green, we were at the highest point in Nashua.
“This is a gift card for $200 for the pro shop inside. Everything is half off, but the gift card has to be used today.”
Wait…what? I could hardly take in what was happening. I had certainly never played in a tournament like this before. At that point, any ideas or expectations I had for my day were thrown to the wayside like a breakfast ball mulligan. After loading up on some socks, gloves, hats, visors, a belt, and a new pair of Adidas 360 Boost golf shoes, I opened the backpack to discover a new Under Armour golf jacket, and a sleeve of ProV1’s. As I was putting my jacket back into the backpack, the host of the tournament came by to shake hands with my team and wish us luck. This was starting to get a tad overwhelming. I needed to focus on golf. So I quickly changed into my new shoes, put my cache of complimentary gear in the truck and headed to the practice green.
I was starting my usual routine of rolling some long putts to warm up when I noticed a familiar face just a few feet away from me. It was the host of the tournament, with whom I’d just met and shaken hands, former NFL MVP and Pro Bowl Quarterback, Boomer Esiason! I remembered why I was here, and kept hitting my practice putts, but for a football fan who grew up during the 80’s and 90’s, this was a pretty cool moment.
We would go on to finish at -1 par. The rest of our round went smooth, but not quite as smooth as the Johnnie Walker Blue top-shelf scotch that we sampled on hole #9. The competitive nature in all of us knew that with our collective skill level, we should have finished with a better score, especially with 6 or 7 birdies burning the edge to turn into pars. However, based on the collective level of decency, respect, and kindness, I couldn’t have played with a better group of men. Golf isn’t about winning prizes, it’s about enjoying the game itself and the time you get to spend with others on the course, and by that measure, we had a great round.
Afterwards we went back into the clubhouse for the banquet and awards ceremony. Again, nothing short of impressive. The food looked amazing, although I decided to save my appetite for my wife’s home cooking, there were also numerous raffles and prizes handed out, and it was fun watching Boomer chuck some autographed footballs around the room to the tournament’s biggest sponsors. What was most impressive though was when Boomer took to the podium. He spoke a little about football, a little about golf, and about his foundation (The Boomer Esiason Foundation) and the money they have raised over the years to fight Cystic Fibrosis. But it was clear to everyone in the room that the driving force in his life and his fight against CF is his son Gunnar, who was born with CF. When Boomer described a typical day in the life of his son, and what Gunnar goes through and accepts as normal, I could not help but to think of my own family. My wife and I have been blessed over and over with our children, and I’m not sure I could handle what the Esiasons have accepted as routine in their lives. I salute you and your family Boomer, you have my upmost respect and admiration.
By the end of his speech, I had to wipe my eyes, and regardless of what jersey he wore in the past, I wanted to be a part of Team Boomer. Cystic Fibrosis affects the lungs and digestive system in some 30,000 children and adults in the United States each year. A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and can cause potentially life-threatening lung infections. The mucus also obstructs the pancreas and stops enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food. Many people, like Gunnar, have to eat their food in an entirely different way from the rest of us. They often have respiratory issues that make the simple act of breathing difficult, and can lead to infections that may result in death. More research is needed to help defeat CF and help the many Americans that wake up each day prepared to fight for their lives.
Before I exited the dining hall and headed home, I made my way over to Boomer’s table. I wanted to shake his hand and say a few words to him about his speech. He was very personable and took the time to talk with me for a few moments. I also gave him my business card and let him know that NHgolfer.com would like to see what we could do to help Team Boomer in the fight against CF. Of course I couldn’t pass up the photo-op with an NFL legend, and with that, we parted ways.