Deb Shaw was not a big golf player before she had three strokes between 2016 and 2019. But putting in virtual reality and later on a real course became a big part of her recovery, especially because it allowed her to get outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She and her husband, Bob Shaw, saw the potential for inspiring other survivors by sharing information about therapies available to them that they might know about and getting them out into the community. They founded a nonprofit, Champion the Challenges in 2020 — and last week hosted more than 250 stroke survivors and their caregivers at the third annual Golf4Life, a free event at Los Lagos Golf Course in San Jose that was more about the experience than the expertise.
Depending on their preference, players could practice driving, participate in a putting challenge or a take on a 3-hole course. Ten PGA club pros were on hand, along with therapists, to help them hit the ball — even using Power2Golf’s “swingless” club, which is piston-driven and with the push of a button can drive a ball from 50 to more than 200 yards. There was a resource fair with exhibitions on stroke awareness and new recovery technology and methods, and therapists from six Bay Area hospitals offered onsite balance checks.
Deb Shaw says she shares her three Ps — patience, positivity and practice — with other stroke survivors and still relies on them herself during her recovery. While she had started to get out on real golf courses, her second and third strokes set her back. She is not giving up, however.
“This makes me want to get back into it because I see the excitement in everyone’s faces who are wheelchair bound and they get up and they try to hit the ball,” she said.
Shaw wasn’t the only inspiration at Golf4Life, though. The lunch speaker was Mariah Fisher, a 17-year-old San Jose student who survived a stroke in 2018 when she was 12 and was the recipient of the American Stroke Association’s 2023 Pediatric Hero award.
“When I was first in the hospital, I thought no one was like me,” she said. “I feel like my recovery is way better than the doctors thought it would be, so I’m pretty proud of that.”
You can find out more about Champion the Challenges at its website, www.championthechallenges.org.
GONE FISHING: Dean Wu, a 17-year-old Mountain View resident, is heading up to Clear Lake this weekend to do some fishing and raise some money. He’s hosting the third annual Kayak Bass Fishing Benefit Tournament, which donates all proceeds from Saturday’s event and a silent auction to the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University.
It’s a cause that’s very personal for Wu, who was diagnosed with allergies to dairy and nuts at a young age. That made it difficult for his family to travel since they always had to be close to a hospital in case he had a severe reaction to trace amounts of allergens in his food. The treatment he received at the Parker Center, he said, provided him with the independence to become the angler he is today.
“For the past three years, I’ve hosted this tournament as a way of giving back to the center that has allowed me to pursue my passion for bass fishing,” Wu said in an email. “Since I no longer need to be near a hospital when I fish, just in case life-threatening allergy treatment is needed, I can spend hours on the water in places like Clear Lake with my dad and brother.”
Last year’s tournament at the Pardee Reservoir in Northern California raised more than $10,700. You can read more about the tournament and Wu’s story at www.foodallergybasstournament.com.
TAKING FLIGHT: Fans of flying machines will want to head over to Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose on Saturday for Airport Community Day, featuring all manner of vintage and classic aircraft. The event, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., also will include classic cars, live music, science and aviation exhibitions, and a radio-controlled air show. You can register for free tickets at www.friendsofrhv.org.