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DOWNEY – The Rancho Los Amigos Foundation’s 22nd Annual Rancho Golf Classic will feature a special appearance by Rancho patient and Paralympian Katy Sullivan and the debut of Rancho’s new Paragolf carts which will allow paralyzed patients to stand and golf.
The tournament will be held Monday, August 13, at the Friendly Hills Country Club in Whittier. Los Angeles County Fourth District Supervisor Don Knabe is the honorary chair, with Matt Knabe of Englander, Knabe and Allen and Mike Silacci of AT&T co-chairing the tourney.
Katy will be attending the tournament dinner just a few days before she leaves to represent the United States in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. She recently made a stirring comeback in the 100 meter event in her classification at the Paralympic Trials in Indianapolis, as she came from 10 yards behind to win the race and a berth on the U.S. team for the Paralympic Games. Katy, whose singing earned a two-minute standing ovation at the Rancho Foundation’s Amistad Gala this spring, will kick off the tournament dinner by singing our national anthem.
“This incredible young woman has captured our hearts with her talent, her hard work, and her determination,” Supervisor Knabe said. “We are all part of Team Katy and we are thrilled that she’ll be singing The Star Spangled Banner at the tournament. It is going to be a magical moment,” he said.
A special edition T-shirt commemorating Katy’s Paralympic run will be available for the first time at the tournament. The shirt was created by world-renowned fashion designer Zandra Rhodes and underwritten by Rancho Chief Medical Officer Mindy Aisen.
The tournament will also mark the coming-out party for Rancho’s new state-of-the art Paragolf carts. Supervisor Knabe recently donated five of the carts to the hospital so that Rancho patients with paralysis could experience the joy of playing golf while standing up, rather than trying to play out of their wheelchairs.
“This is the official start of Rancho’s new patient golf program, and our patients and staff are very excited to have these state-of-the-art devices not only to play golf, but to stand and do activities of daily living,” said Rancho CEO Jorge Orozco.
Proceeds from the tournament will benefit the patient programs of the Rancho Los Amigos Foundation.
“We wish to thank all our sponsors, including the Annenberg Foundation, Supervisor Knabe, Sodexo, A-Med Health Care, Reimbursement Services Group, Lunday-Thagard, Care Ambulance, Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital (PIH) McCormick Ambulance, Hunt Construction and Chevrolet of Montebello,” said Rancho Los Amigos Foundation President Connie Martinez. “The contributions of our sponsors and players will make it possible for the Foundation to continue to provide world-class, cutting edge programs, such as our new ReWalk Exoskeleton robots which will allow many patients with paralysis to walk again,” she said.
“The bottom line of this tournament is that is all about the patients,” co-chair Matt Knabe said. “When you see someone who is normally wheelchair bound standing in his or her Paragolf carts and hitting the ball, it is a real-life example of the innovation that has made Rancho one of America’s Best Hospitals for 23 years in a row.”
“This will not only be a great day of golf, it will be a day when we will get to meet a number of Rancho patients with disabilities who will amaze us with what they can accomplish, thanks to Rancho,” co-chair Mike Silacci said.
After the golf is done, tourney participants will be treated to Katy’s special performance. “Patients like Katy are the reason we work so hard to make this tournament a success each year,” Connie said. “Her story is like those of many of her fellow Rancho patients, who overcome significant challenges to realize the power of their dreams.”
Here, is Katy’s story of her personal journey, in her own words:
“I was born without legs and have worn prosthetic legs all of my life. I was raised in Alabama and spent my early years trying to be just like my siblings, flipping around in gymnastics and practicing three times a week with the local swim team. Sports became frustrating because it was hard for me to keep up with the other kids so I turned all of my energy into becoming an actor.
“My performing career has taken me all over the country. I have worked on stage in Chicago, in movies in New York, on different television series in Los Angeles, and even had the opportunity to sing at the 1996 Olympic opening ceremonies in Atlanta.
“Moving to Los Angeles in 2004 brought me not only tremendous opportunity with acting but it also brought me the blessing of meeting Will Yule at Hanger Prosthetics. I was gifted a pair of running legs from Hanger, and a new chapter in my life was created. With the help of Rancho therapist Julie Kasayama, and my prosthetist, I learned how to run with my new legs. This has opened a whole new world for me.
As I began to run faster, through the generous support of Hanger Prosthetics and Ossur, I received custom made running legs built especially for my body. In my new carbon fiber sprinting legs, I began to compete at a higher level and started to excel in the competitive world of physically challenged track and field.
“When I was a child I saw a production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at a local theatre in Alabama. One of the girls in the play attended my school, and before the play was over I decided that I was going to be an actor.
“I spent the next 10 years doing anything in the theatre from building sets to stage management – just to be involved in the process. I was cast in numerous plays and even in a singing group that performed at the opening ceremonies at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. I decided to get my degree in theatre and I went to a fantastic conservatory in the Midwest where I blossomed as an actress. My favorite time at school was when I was cast in the starring role in Hedda Gabbler. Upon graduating, I was given a job at the prestigious Goodman Theatre in Chicago. I worked in theatres throughout the Windy City before deciding to relocate to Los Angeles.
“Working in television, movies and independent films in Los Angeles keeps me very busy. A few years ago, I appeared on the television series “My Name Is Earl” on NBC, and starred in an independent film, which played on the film festival circuit.
“When I was young my parents were very worried about me when I told them I was going to be an actor, however, I set my mind to it and became successful at what I love doing. Now I have also conquered the world of track and field, having set a world record for 200 meters in my classification and qualifying for the Paralympic Games.”.
“My motto is and always will be ‘If you believe in what you are doing and you want to do it, go for it, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.’”
“It is a great honor that Katy and several other Rancho patients will be participating in our tournament, because they represent the miracles that happen at Rancho each and every day,” Supervisor Knabe said. “No matter what happens in London, Katy has already shown us that she is winner in life, and that she has the heart of a true champion.
“We want Katy to know that she won’t be alone as she runs her Paralympic 100 meters in the Olympic Stadium in London,” he said. “Because as she carries the hopes and dreams of America down the track, we will be with her every step of the way.”
For more information on the Rancho Golf Classic, call the Rancho Los Amigos Foundation at (562) 401-7053.
Published: August 02, 2012 – Volume 11 – Issue 16