Play golf to help heal those injured in combat

Play golf to help heal those injured in combat
Retired Marine Col. Jim Collins gets in some practice before last year’s Operation Game On. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

A limited number of sponsorship and playing opportunities are still available for the 11th annual Operation Game On Golf Classic, which will be held Aug. 13 at Fairbanks Ranch Country Club.

Registration begins at 9:30 a.m., followed by driving and putting practice, the presentation of colors at 10:45 a.m. and a shotgun start at 11:30 a.m.

Operation Game On was created in 2008 by Rancho Santa Fe resident Tony Perez to give returning combat-injured troops suffering from physical and mental disabilities a custom introduction-to-golf package.

Participants receive golf lessons from PGA-certified instructors, a professional fitting session at The Kingdom at TaylorMade Golf, customized clubs, bags, shoes and gloves at no cost to them or the military.

Doctors, prosthetic specialists and counselors have found golf provides mental and physical rehabilitation that rapidly allows combat-injured troops to regain confidence and enjoy an active lifestyle again.

“The change from day one is dramatic,” Perez said. “I stay in touch with most of those who have come through the program and hear some wonderful, heartfelt stories about their successes because of OGO.

“However, there is still the other side of those that are still suffering from their invisible injuries,” he added. “Most recently, two alumni called me to inform me that they are having some issues and still struggling and asked if they can come back. Of course, without hesitation, they were most welcomed.”

When the program started, most of the players had suffered amputations. Many are now dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“As I’m finding out, PTSD comes in various forms and not just from combat-related issues,” Perez said. “We still have quite a few troops suffering the effects of war. I’m trying to inform the public how serious it is and the affects it has on the families and their children.”

Operation Game On’s main fundraiser, the golf tournament, includes food and grog throughout the day, which ends with cocktails, a three-course dinner, a silent auction and raffle, awards and guest speakers beginning at 4:30 p.m.

This year Perez has added a “dive bar,” tee box featuring games, music, sliders and beverages.

The cost is $350 per player, which includes the after-party events, or $50 per person for the dinner only.

Available sponsorships include $5,000 for the banquet, $3,000 for happy hour and $1,000 for a veterans group.

Visit www.operationgameon.org or contact Perez at (619) 997-0773 or pgapop@gmail.com to register, become a sponsor or for more information.

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