(Recap from September 22, 2013)
Everyone has a dream, but often obstacles prevent us from attaining that dream. Often we allow struggles such as bullying, a poor self-image, or a disability to stand in the way…. But one KSS student has surpassed some of his struggles to see an amazing dream come true.
17-year-old Walid Khalfallah has had his share of obstacles. From the age of 12 golf was a huge part of Walid’s life. Every week he would join his grandfather out at the driving range to hit a few balls. But a few years ago, due to a medical condition, Walid became confined to a wheelchair and golfing became an impossibility; for the time being, Walid had to settle for watching pro golf and following his favourite golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on television. Despite the challenges, Walid never lost his deep passion for the sport.
On Friday September 6, 2013, Walid received the astounding news that he had been selected by the well-known Make-A-Wish Foundation to make a wish–an incredible honour and privilege. Walid was suddenly faced with a new obstacle: he literally could choose to do almost anything he wanted. After a few days of research and thought Walid finally came to a decision about what to wish for. Khalfallah has chosen to go golfing in Florida with his best friend Jake (also a grade 11 student at KSS). “My heart was set on this… the golfing!!” Walid beamed during an interview with Censor This!
The exciting catch was that there was to be a third member to their party: a pro-golfer by the name of Anthony Netto. Anthony Netto became Walid’s golfer of choice because he, too, is a paraplegic who has reinvented himself. On New Years Eve of 1994, Netto was hit by a drunk driver, an accident that put him in a wheel chair.
Netto’s career dreams as a pro golfer were shattered in seconds; however, with a great deal of rehabilitation, Netto has managed to return to his professional status, and for obvious reasons he has become a great inspiration to Walid. A program was developed called “Stand Up and Play”, created to give the impaired an opportunity to take part in sports and activities again. This program is possible because Netto himself invented his own wheelchair to help him stand up, making golfing a possibility again.
Walid Update (November 11, 2014)
At the end of sumer, 2014, Walid’s wish finally came true. He and his family travelled to San Diego to golf again. Anthony Netto (a paraplegic golfer), who created the specialized golf cart was waiting for him. When asked how it felt to golf again, Walid grinned, “It felt really good!”. He also said that being in the Paragolfer was a totally worthwhile experience—in fact, the entire experience blew his mind.
A week in San Diego was a total blast. “It was super hot there,” he said, but that didn’t stop him from enjoying the golfing. Getting back out on the green brought back memories of golfing with his grandpa—in all, a game of golf was well over due.
Walid described his time in San Diego as second-to-none. He said one of the highlights was being able to stay in an all-inclusive resort with his family, a dream vacation for any student and something he’ll never forget.