Tom Cousins Award winning essay: 'How The Game of Golf Can Change Lives'

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By Laura Lonardi, Baylor University (Click here to read Alex Burge's winning essay)

Through my experience with the Dravet Italia I realized that golf is not just a fun game, but it can be a way to raise awareness and funds for an important cause.

A couple of years ago my mother and I had the pleasure to meet Isabella Brambilla. Isabella’s third child is affected by Dravet syndrome and she is the founder of the Dravet Italia, an association that raises funds to fund the research for the Dravet syndrome. The Dravet syndrome is a form of epilepsy resistant to medicine. Some children are born with this disease and it causes them severe mental problems and in some causes premature death.

When my mother and I heard Isabella’s story and the difficulties that her son had to endure every day, we decided that we wanted to do something to help and we came up with an amazing idea. At my home golf course in Verona, my mother is in charge to organize group lessons and activities for the children of the members. Our main goal was to raise funds for the research for the Dravet syndrome, but we also wanted to raise awareness in the children. We felt that just asking the parents to donate some money would have been to easy and we would have lost the opportunity to educate the children on a difficult subject. We wanted to make them understand that there are very unfortunate children and that they should try their best in order to help them integrate in and outside the classrooms.

We selected two Sundays a month for six months where the children could volunteer caddying for one of the members in the Sunday tournament. Instead of tipping the child, the member was going to make an offer to the Dravet Italia at the end of the day. To make it more fun for the kids we had uniforms with their name on it and we had a special reward for the two most generous kids.

At the end of the year there was going to be a pro-am to raise funds and the special guest of the pro-am was Matteo Manassero. The two children that caddied the most Sundays were going to caddy for Matteo in the pro-am. The list of children willing to caddy was longer and longer every Sunday and I felt that we achieved both our goals: we raised a lot of money for the association and we also helped the children understand the importance of volunteering and help others.