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    It has been estimated that 54 million people, or 20.6 percent of all Americans, have some level of disability. According to the Disability Statistics Center:

  • The number of people with disabilities in the workforce has increased, and will continue to increase, in part because of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Between 1991 and 1994, the number of disabled Americans employed increased by more than 1.1 million, according to the Census Bureau. Employment rates for young adults with severe disabilities have tripled in this time period.
  • Education rates for people with disabilities are increasing: 75 percent of disabled persons finished high school in 1994, up from 60% in 1986; college enrollments have increased from 29 percent to 44 percent.
  • Technological advances are eliminating many of the physical and informational barriers that have made it difficult for people with disabilities to perform job tasks.
  • The public is becoming better informed and aware of disability issues.
  • America’s population is aging; aging increases the incidence of disability. The number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to increase 135% between 1995 and 2050, according to the Census Bureau.

(Source: State of New Mexico web site: http://www.newmexico.gov/accessibility.htm)

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In the meantime, here’s a story you should read about PING. The story lies at the heart of our mission:

On Monday, I played the Disney, Lake Buena Vista course. As usual the starters matched me with three other players. After a few holes we began to get to know each other a bit. One fellow was rather young and had his wife riding along in the golf cart with him. I noticed that his golf bag had his name on it and after closer inspection it also said “wounded war veterans”.

When I had my first chance to chat with him I asked him about the bag. His response was simply that it was a gift. I then asked if he was wounded and he said yes. When I asked more about his injury, his response was “I’d rather not talk about it, sir”.

Over a few holes I learned that he had spent the last 15 months in an army rehabilitation hospital in San Antonio Texas. His wife moved there to be with him. And he was released from the hospital in September. He was a rather quiet fellow; however, he did say that he wanted to get good at golf. We had a nice round and as we became a bit more familiar I asked him about the brand new set of Ping woods and irons he was playing. Some looked like they had never been hit. His response was simple. He said that this round was the first full round he had played with these clubs.

Later in the round he told me the following. As part of the discharge process from the rehabilitation hospital, Ping comes in and provides three days of golf instruction, followed by club fitting. Upon discharge from the hospital, Ping gives each of the discharged veterans, generally about 40 soldiers, a brand new set of custom fitted clubs along with the impressive golf bags.

The fellow I met was named Ben Woods and he looked me in the eye and said that being fitted for those clubs was one of the best things that ever happened to him and he was determined to learn to play golf well enough to deserve the gift Ping had given him. Ben is now out of the service, medically discharged just a month ago. He is as fine a young man as you would ever want to meet.

God Bless America and the Game of Golf’.

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