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OHL Classic at Mayakoba provides mobility aids to Playa de Carmen families

November 9, 2017

By Doug Milne, PGA TOUR Staff

In downtown Playa del Carmen on Wednesday of this week’s OHL Classic at Mayakoba, a group of kids and families sat waiting-- and hoping-- on Wednesday afternoon. Heads turned in anticipation. Individuals spoke softly amongst themselves.

By most standards, what they were awaiting moved few needles. To these extremely poverty-stricken folks, however, the wait was to result in a life-enhancing experience. They were waiting for the help they believed could transform the way they moved through life, both literally and emotionally.

The help that would get them further along down the road, jumpstart, if you will, a stagnant position where bare necessities were in many cases rare commodities.

Once again this year, the OHL Classic at Mayakoba offered free wheelchairs, walkers and Braille reading materials to those in need.

“We always say golf is a humbling game, but when you get into the community like this, you see how humbling how life can be,” said Tyrone Van Aswegen. “You get to see how a wheelchair can make someone’s day, year or life better. This is a really powerful thing and I am glad I am here.”

Once in a wheelchair early in his life, fighting cerebral palsy, DJ Gregory was among the fortunate ones who received the necessary tools to keep him moving forward.

“This was an awesome afternoon,’” said Gregory who, despite cerebral palsy, has walked every hole of every PGA TOUR event since 2008. “It’s one of these tournaments that does so much for its community, and to be a part of it is pretty incredible. It’s an amazing thing to watch.”

On a late afternoon the day before competition began, there was a lot of work to do by tournament officials. There were the last needed practice sessions players typically put in. But a handful of the staff and players instead loaded up in white vans, determined to quell the anxiety and bring to fruition the hope they heard was coming.

“I have five kids, so to see these people get something as basic as a wheelchair or a walker really touches your heart,” said Aaron Baddeley. “So, to be out here and touch their hearts a little does so much. You don’t feel like you ever do enough, but it is really special and makes you want to come back every year.”

“Sometimes, you can come down here and not look far to see how badly these people suffer,” said Roberto Diaz. “You struggle on the golf course, make a bad shot or whatever, but to come down here and see what goes on is what life is about. This is what life is really all about.”

In many parts of Mexico, any edge, no matter how small, is the corner they’ve longed to round.

“We are in DIF Solidad,” said Veronica Muller, about a local, organization akin to the Department of Children's Services in the States. Muller is an area resident who runs the media center at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. “This is an organization of the government. What happened today was a symbolic ceremony to give out wheelchairs, Braille reading supplies and walkers. The wheelchairs will be customized, so this was just a symbolic gesture of what’s to come for nearly 50 people in need.”

As the afternoon wore on, all heads remained forward. The quiet mutterings transformed into smiles. After all, these people now have a new stroll through life, a new way to read and learn.

“I have to say that in the States, when someone says there are poor people, you really don’t know what poor is,” Muller added. “You have to come to a country like Mexico to see what poor really is. We don’t get welfare or anything, so you have to manage with what you have. So, there are companies like this that are helped by tournaments like the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. They donate time and product and what they can get their hands on. You know, $2.2 million in the States may not seem like anything, but it goes so far here. That’s a lot of money that goes a long way. It goes really far. A wheelchair to these people is liking acquiring a new house.”

So, as this week’s OHL Classic at Mayakoba gets underway and the professionals stroll the fairways, many others will-- thanks to them-- be rolling in style towards an even more substantial prize.

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