Dozens of top-notch golfers braved the heat at Brierwood Country Club in Hamburg on Monday to raise money for college scholarships in a tournament featuring two types of golfers -- the "normies" and the "amputees".
Eighteen amputees competed in the second annual Buffalo Amputee Golf Classic alongside 70 non-amputees, dubbed the "normies" by the amputee golfers. Each of the amputee golfers has a story to share about becoming an amputee.
"I lost my leg in 1958 due to a football injury," explains Bob Fox.
"I was a passenger in an automobile accident where a driver left the road and hit a tree and pretty much the arm was amputated there at the scene," says Kellie Valentine.
The amputee golfers also each have a story of determination in overcoming the loss and then going on to golf, and golf very well.
"After I lost my arm I said, 'Hey dad I want to play golf', and he said, 'What about tennis?' So that was the spur that got me going and I've played ever since," says Valentine who now competes in tournaments all over the world.
Jeremy Bittner has been an amputee since he lost his leg when was four-years-old, and now he's a 7-handicap golfer. Bittner is also a student at Robert Morris University thanks to a scholarship funded in part by the Buffalo Amputee Golf Classic. "The only limitations are the ones that you set for yourself," says Bittner.
Bittner's philosophy seems to be shared by all the amputees competing in Monday's tournament. "Some people have two arms and other people have one arm or no arms. I happen to have one leg and, actually I have three (legs) because I've got a spare in the closet at home," says Fox.
"I never really let it hold me back. The only sport I haven't played is soccer and it's just because I don't like soccer," laughs Bittner.
"You have two choices when something traumatic happens and I chose to persevere and play a sport that I love," explains Valentine, "If that helps someone feel good or think that they can do better then that's just bonus."
The Buffalo Amputee Golf Classic grew bigger in its second year with 88 golfers compared with 68 the year before, and organizers hope to have even more participants next summer.