Quite a Bonus
June 7, 2010
By Phil Stambaugh, PGA TOUR Staff
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa—At age 11, Thomas Bonus has already received a mulligan in life. Two years ago this summer, Bonus suffered an accident that almost left him paralyzed. After emergency care and extensive physical therapy at Blank Children’s Hospital, one of the benefiting charities of The Principal Charity Classic, Bonus is now healthy and active again.
With his life back on course, Bonus has renewed his love of golf. Seven years after getting his first golf lesson, he recently received instruction and inspiration from two-time major champion Fuzzy Zoeller, one of the Champions Tour’s most-popular players.
“Thomas did great,” Zoeller said after instructing Bonus individually for almost an hour. “We worked on his swing, and I can already see improvement. It’s really good to see him out here having fun. Thomas got a second chance at life. Not all kids are that lucky.”
On July 1, 2008, the 9-year-old was practicing relay starts with a swim team and dove into a pool, hitting his head on the bottom. He fractured several vertebrae and bruised his spinal cord. Although conscious when he was removed from the pool, he couldn’t move his arms or legs.
The physicians and staff at Blank Children’s Hospital cared for Bonus, and after five days, doctors immobilized his neck in a brace. Before he could move his head, Bonus was reading a number of get-well cards attached to the ceiling of his hospital room. Two months later, he was released but had to undergo extensive physical therapy for almost two years.
Bonus’ mom, Cyndi, credits Blank’s Child Life program with helping the entire family cope with Thomas’ hospitalization. Child Life provides counselors to help hospitalized kids and their families deal with the physical and emotional strains of illnesses and injuries. Child Life counselors even went to Thomas’ school on his first day back to help other students understand the large neck brace, commonly called a “halo” that he wore for several months after the accident.
“Blank Children’s Hospital’s Child Life counselors were there every step of the way, and they are a wonderful resource for an entire family,” said Cyndi.
Thomas Bonus is now back playing the game he loves. And thanks to some tips from Zoeller, he’s hoping to find nothing but fairways and greens.
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