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Ryan Straschnitzki isn’t just motivated by the goal of winning Paralympic gold for Canada in hockey.
The 23-year-old can often be found on the fairways and golf simulators, still working on perfecting his swing.
“I have always seen the power of sport as incredible. It’s life-changing, both mentally and physically,” Straschnitzki said after a summer skate with Canada’s para-hockey team.
“Obviously hockey is a big part of my life, but golf is right up there. I remember using the ParaGolfer and I was like, “Man, this is incredible. I wish everyone could use it.”
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It’s an idea that stuck with the adaptive sports defender after testing the ParaGolfer device last winter at Heritage Pointe Golf Club in Alberta.
A sit-to-stand mobility aid allows golfers to put weight on their lower body and swing the club while standing.
While seated, the user can navigate rolling fairways, enter the rough, and navigate the most treacherous bunkers.
“It’s like a mini golf cart that you can sit on,” Straschnitzki said.
“So someone who has trouble standing or is in a wheelchair can stand up and not only put weight on their legs, but it allows them to get back the golf swing and posture and get into the swing of things. “
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While it’s certainly wheelchair-friendly, the ParaGolfer is also designed for people with multiple sclerosis, ALS, cerebral palsy, and people with limited mobility in general.
Unfortunately, there are only two ParaGolfers in Western Canada.
Now, the Straz Strong Foundation and the Synaptic Neurorehabilitation Center are aiming to raise $100,000 through a charity golf tournament to bring the groundbreaking adaptive equipment to Calgary.
Straschnitzki’s goal is to make ParaGolfer available to any golfer in need at any course in the city.
The tournament will feature a ParaGolfer for people to try, as well as other adaptive equipment demonstrations and educational opportunities to raise awareness of the impact of neurological and physical disabilities.
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Any additional money raised will support access to integrative rehabilitation programs, adaptive sports and equipment.
“Sometimes people don’t get that opportunity, and it can be a downer in their lives,” Straschnitzki said. “I’ve always felt that there’s always something you can work towards and you know the road never ends.
“I’m hoping to put that into this golf tournament and fundraiser so people know there’s an opportunity out there for them.”
Registration for the first-ever DRIVE tournament is open to the public until September 4.
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