|Ballyneal makes golf outing possible for caddie Ben Cox|
|Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt|
It was a great day for golf at Ballyneal Sunday, June 19, and it was a Father’s Day to remember for Ben Cox and his dad, Kenneth, along with member Jim Colton.
A caddie at Ballyneal for several summers and an avid golfer himself, Ben loves the course. But he saw it from a different perspective Sunday.
Ben, who will be 24 this month, was injured in a March 17 skiing accident which at this point has him paralyzed from the chest down.
Ballyneal personnel arranged for a specially-designed golf cart to be picked up in Aurora. Ben was strapped in, and the seat swiveled around for him to get in position to hit the ball. Because he can’t grip tightly, he wore a glove with Velcro that was secured onto his club.
Ben Cox makes a putt on Ballyneal Green #1, under the careful eye of Jim Colton, pictured at left,
Ben Cox is full of determination as he hits off the fairway of Hole #1 at Ballyneal Sunday. He found
Ballyneal member Jim Colton of Wheaton, Ill. learned of Cox’s plight last spring and generously arranged for a benefit to raise money for Cox’s health care.
Colton was set to walk 108 holes of golf in one day Monday, June 20, having collected lump-sum and per-hole pledges. He offered opportunities for others to take an active role in the event, as well.
Colton couldn’t have anticipated the golf-ball size hail (no pun intended) that pounded Ballyneal Sunday night.
As a result of the weather, the event didn’t happen June 20, but was rescheduled for Wednesday, June 22 when Colton and crew were to hit the links from sun-up to sun-down. Members were advised to clear the way for the left-handed golfer in the orange hat, as he would be moving quickly.
But the plan for Ben and Kenneth to golf with Colton Sunday proceeded as scheduled. Ben made it two full holes, and his dad and Colton continued on to finish nine before bad weather moved in.
Anticipation of the Coxes’ arrival was keen Sunday afternoon at Ballyneal. Members who knew Ben from previous years, Ballyneal employees, fellow caddies and other total strangers greeted him with enthusiasm.
His jovial, positive approach to life was endearing.
Ben Cox and Jim Colton rejoice after Ben’s tee-off on Hole #1 at
Ben Cox introduces his mom, Melinda, pictured at right,
“Do I hear Rupert O’Neal’s voice?” Ben asked at one point. Ballyneal owner O’Neal had arrived, and Ben’s appreciation was clear.
“Every time people talk about Ballyneal, I’ve said good things,” said Ben.
It was an emotional high for Ben’s entourage when he teed off on Hole #1 with a solid, straight hit.
Jim Colton, Ben’s dad and mom (Kenneth and Melinda), O’Neal and a half dozen other supporters followed him to the pin and cheered with enthusiasm when he finished the hole.
It was a day to remember for the 2006 Haxtun High School graduate who plans to return to Texas Tech in January to finish his last two semesters needed for his civil engineering degree.
Holyoke Enterprise June 23, 2011