A man who is paralyzed from the waist down is looking to make golf accessible for himself and others in his situation.
Michael Cameron is helping organize the Ugly Pant Golf Classic, Sept. 28 at the Cultus Lake Golf Course.
Proceeds from the event will go towards a piece of technology called the Paragolfer, an all-terrain vehicle that can take someone around the golf course in a sitting position, and raise them into a standing position when it’s time to swing the club.
“Through that horrible injury, losing the use of his legs and having to recuperate, all Michael’s been dreaming about is having a fundraiser so other people can play golf,” said Jill Tierney, a volunteer ambassador with the RAD Recreation Adapted Society.
RAD, which is supporting the tournament, is a Victoria-based non-profit charity that, according to radsociety.ca, “is making outdoor recreation possible for people living with limited mobility.”
Tierney first connected with Cameron at an Outdoor Adapted Recreation fair, held annually at the GF Strong Rehabiliation Centre.
Cameron suffered a severe C4 spinal injury in January that left him paralyzed from the waist down. After spending two months in intensive care, he was transferred to GF Strong in March.
When Tierney met him, she was surprised at how upbeat he was. Despite facing tremendous life-changing adversity, Cameron was focused on helping others.
“The only thing he wanted to do didn’t have anything to do with himself,” Tierney recalled. “He was talking about raising money to buy the Paragolfer.”
Before he was injured, Cameron worked at the Cultus Lake Golf Course, and that’s where the Paragolfer will reside if Cameron is successful.
“Jeff (Bahnman) at the Cultus Lake Golf Course has been really, really supportive,” Tierney said. “He’s told Michael that when he gets out and he’s ready, he’ll still have a job.”
The Ugly Pant Classic will in fact have a contest to judge who has worn the ugliest pants.
It’ll be held on Cameron’s birthday (Sept. 28) with a 1 p.m. start time.
The cost for golf and dinner is $75 and the cost for dinner only is $40.
“Michael is out there now with his friends, his team, and they have been putting up posters everywhere and talking to everybody,” Tierney said. “This is going to be the first Paragolfer in the Lower Mainland, and it’s going to help so many people in Cultus Lake and Chilliwack, and anyone who visits this community.
“Think of an aging population and people who aren’t good at getting out of a golf cart anymore. Now they’ll be able to get into the Paragolfer and play again.”
Tierney hopes the tournament and fundraiser help promote inclusion in sports.
“People with disabilities live on an income that most people could never live off of, and any type of adaptive sports equipment is thousands of dollars,” she said. “So RAD is about raising money to purchase equipment that people with disabilities can use.
“Getting this Paragolfer will let people with a disability, amputees, temporary injuries and our aging population, keep doing or start doing something that gets them outside with friends and family to participate in a sport and stay active.”
For more info or to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-756-1556.