By Pat Church, USGTF Master, Eugene, Oregon

Many of us have students that stand out and have done wonderful things in this game of golf. I have one who is very “Special.” Meet Chuck Colfer, a 72-year-old Special Olympics athlete who competes in bowling, powerlifting and golf. His haul of medals and ribbons are way too numerous to count.

I met Chuck when I started coaching golf for our local Special Olympics program in 2004. He then competed in the Skills grouping: putting, chipping, pitching, drive and irons. He was consistent and always finished “in the money” within his age grouping.

As the years went by, Chuck always alerted his family when it was time to go golf with Coach Pat. He never missed a practice and was always ready to do his best. His form is not a pretty sight, but his commitment is! In 2012 his mother died, and his family found him a personal care worker – enter Roy. With Roy’s help, Chuck blossomed: more talkative, but not a conversationalist; more outgoing and even more engaged in his golf. Chuck and Roy became a Unified team that played alternate shot for nine holes. They struggled at first, but grew into a strong team, usually still finishing in the medal rounds.

Every year come September, he begins his countdown to his birthday…in November. I am always invited to his birthday dinner at his favorite diner – such a grand night. Chuck and other Special Olympic athletes have made me a better, more patient teacher. His friendship has enriched my life and now in my semi-retirement, Chuck, Roy and I play as often as we can.

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