Golf ... fore all the right reasons
Cook Children’s, PGA players participate in annual Bedpan Open
As some of the best pros in the PGA look on, the young golfer eyes a putt. And that’s where any comparisons to what will be happening at the Dean & Deluca Invitational at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth and what’s happening on this golf course ends.
This young golfer is actually a patient at Cook Children’s playing in the Annual Bedpan Open, an event where Cook Children’s staff goes all out to make the most creative holes you could imagine (within the constraints of a $100 budget) for children to putt through. At each hole, a PGA golfer is playing caddy for the kids.
Last year’s pros were Tim Herron, Jarrod Lyle and Sam Saunders. The golfers take time out of practice for the Dean & Deluca Invitational to be a part of the Bedpan Open every year. This will be the 27th annual event at Cook Children's.
“What I see is that the people who work here are very passionate about what they are doing and about making sure the kids have a good time while going through some really hard times,” Herron said. “It’s totally cool. Just to get the kids out for a little while with what they are going through and to have a smile on their face, even if it’s briefly, while doing something like this is really genuine and cool. This is some place.”
And while Herron may be in the spotlight as a pro, he said he didn’t mind taking a backseat to the patients during the Bedpan Open.
After all, this is all about the young golfers … and the competition to make the most elaborate and creative hole among staff. Where else could you find a hole with an art theme that has the following:
- The player chooses a giant paint brush and knocks the ball through the paint bucket, tilted on a ramp.
- The ball rolls and falls into paint.
- From there, the golfer chooses his or her color and then putts past the giant crayons (made out of pool noodles) and into more paint.
- Uh oh, she’s knocked the ball into a water hazard, which is actually a small pool with water color. But it’s OK, the ball has been scooped up by a giant spoon that takes the ball into a water color palette.
- The ball rolls past the sand trap, which is rainbow colored of course, around the pair of giant scissors and pencils and then into the mystery tunnel.
- Under the tunnel is different puddles of paint. The ball picks up several different colors of paint as it rolls through the tunnel so the golfer won’t know the color of the ball until it comes out of the tunnel.
- Finally the ball goes into the bedpan, which actually offers different holes for the ball to fall into. Depending on the color hole, the participants will receive a fun prize that sticks to the theme of the hole – pencils, markers, paints …
At the end, the golfers receive another prize. The entire time they’ve been creating art themselves as they roll the paint on a sheet of paper. The paper is scooped up and given to the kids as a souvenir of their experience.
“We are encouraging play and creativeness. That theme really fit our group. All of us love to do this with the kids and we are encouraging them to have fun,” said Diana Gibson, resident artist at Cook Children’s.
Gibson, Jillian Mitchell,Community Program coordintator Erin Reid, a Child Life specialists are all health care professionals who work in the Child Life department, who put as much thought into the child’s well-being as they did in being creative.
“We each work different shifts and days on our team so it took a bit of organization in order to complete all of the aspects of our bed pan hole,” Gibson said. “Our days are filled with supporting patients and their families during their stay here so we had to work on the pieces when we had a spare minute or after work hours were over. All in all, we probably spent about twenty man hours building and creating all of the different sections of our hole. But we’d do it all over again because we are all about these kids!”
Once the design of the hole was finished, the team thought of ways to make sure that everything was wheelchair and IV pole accessible. They made sure that everything would be safe on the outside of the course and within the hole. They glued pieces to the ground so they kids couldn’t roll on top of them and made sure they could get around the corners. Even the tunnel can be lifted up if need be so a child doesn’t have to stress about getting his or her ball out of there.
The course also offers the children an opportunity that sometimes goes missing in a hospital setting – a choice.
“It gives them a chance to get out of their rooms, come down here and be creative with fewer restrictions,” Mitchell said. “They can have that interaction, regardless of whatever else they have going on here. If this is the one thing they did that day or that week that is truly awesome they can use this hole as their happy place.”
Yes, even with the PGA golfers and the employees competing against each other for creating the best hole, this day belongs to the kids.
“When they come down here, they are the celebrities,” Gibson said. “Everyone is there for them. It raises their self-esteem and that sense of awareness of, ‘I’m important and they care about me.’ So I think having that – knowing that all these people made all this for you to come down and play can really help in their healing process – just knowing that people really do care and want them to get better.”