RI golf event to provide opportunities for all

A night on the driving range might bore most kids - but not 4-year-old Braylon O'Neill.

"He was obsessed. When he was 1-year-old, he saw it on TV. For most kids it would be boring, but not to my son," said Michael O'Neill, Braylon's father.

Braylon's father grabs the golf balls and Braylon gets his clubs.

After a few practice swings, Braylon is ready to hit like a pro.

"For us, golf is just another avenue for Braylon for him to form a strong sense of self and feel like he can accomplish something," said Kelly O'Neill, Braylon's mother.

Braylon is just like everyone else on the driving range, except he has prosthetic legs. It was the result of a rare genetic condition he was born with.

"Honestly, I think he sees his legs as part of who he is," Kelly O'Neill said.

On Sept. 28, he'll get to see other children who are amputees playing the game he loves at the First Annual Full Swing Golf Day at Button Hole Golf in Providence.

"We have golf professionals come out to teach the kids about the game and give them the opportunity to use the par-3 golf course," said Paula Kleniewski.

Kleniewski and other students from the University of Rhode Island set up the event. They have room for 30 children, and parents have until Sunday to sign up.

The event will raise money to help Button Hole become one of the only completely accessible golf course in the nation.

"It's so moving when those young men and women who have been somewhat limited hit that ball for the first time and it flies," said Peg Brown of Button Hole Golf. "It's just so emotional."

Braylon's family can't wait.

"I think it's just going to be a priceless opportunity," Kelly O'Neill said.

To make a donation to the event, make checks payable to URI Foundation - Physical Therapy.

Mail to:

Physical Therapy ProgramUniversity of Rhode Island25 West Independence Way, Suite JKingston, RI 02881Attn: Jane Schmitz