Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open Holds Epilepsy Awareness Day in Klauk’s Honor
June 22, 2012
By Phil Stambaugh/PGA TOUR Staff
WICHITA, Kan.—She’ll always be known as “Wichita Mom” to PGA TOUR professional Jeff Klauk, but on Friday at the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open, Vicky Hiebsch took on a greater role to help her friend back in St. Augustine, Fla. Klauk, a former tournament winner on the Nationwide Tour here, was a regular house guest at the Hiebsch residence for the eight years he played in the event, and it was her mission this year to dedicate a day in his name to help raise awareness for epilepsy, the third most common neurological disorder in the United States.
Last month, Hiebsch went to Tournament Director Roy Turner with the idea of creating an Epilepsy Awareness Day to help support the 2003 champion. Via Christi, the event’s host organization, fully supported the plan.
“I know what Jeff has been going through and decided to do some research on epilepsy. I was surprised that it’s not funded as much as it probably should be. People don’t realize you can contract epilepsy at any time in your life, and after visiting with Jeff, I told him that I wanted to do something at this year’s tournament to help create awareness, “ Hiebsch said. “Jeff didn’t want it to be about him. As a former champion of this event, he just wanted us to use his name and likeness to make people more aware about epilepsy.”
On Friday, players, volunteers and spectators where handed either a purple ribbon or purple sticker at both the main admissions gate and on the first and 10th tees to show their support for Klauk in his battle with epilepsy. In addition, fans were also given a brochure explaining the facts about epilepsy.
“Wichita holds a special place in my heart,” Klauk said. “It was the site of my first professional win back in 2003 and where I met the Hiebsch family. The entire tournament organization has been so supportive of me, and it’s exciting and humbling they are having Epilepsy Awareness Day.”
In 2006, Klauk suffered two major seizures and still suffers from recurring partial seizures. He awaits surgery on Aug. 1 to remove a segment of brain tissue that doctors hope will eliminate or minimize the effects of his condition.
The Hiebsch family is hopeful that everyone who attended this Nationwide Tour event today gains a better understanding about epilepsy and what Klauk and more than 3 million other Americans are dealing with.
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