The RBC Heritage golf tournament puts Hilton Head on a national stage.
But the ladies and gentlemen of PEP aren’t focused on who wins. For these Lowcountry folks, its a chance to hit the links close to home and enjoy a day out, while making some new, talented golfer friends.
PEP, which stands for Programs for Exceptional People, has a goal of enhancing the lives of adults with special needs. The mission is to promote independence, social interaction and employment opportunities for adults who live with intellectual disabilities.
On Tuesday, almost a dozen PEP members hit the links of Harbourtown to watch the professionals play the same game they do, just a little better. Their reaction to this day out…
“I think I like it….awesome,” said Matthew.
Adults with special needs who work and learn every day, enjoying every minute of this day. Volunteers say this day means so much to them, and should mean even more to the entire community.
“You say this is almost as important for everyone else?”
“Its almost more so,” says Dan Mickinac, a PEP Father and Volunteer. “Because they get to see that they are people, even though they may have some disabilities,”
“They are people just like we are,” explains Trey Hennessee, PEP Recreation and Leisure Coordinator. “They want jobs. they want to experience fun activities. and it warms our heart to be able to do it for these guys.”
These guys and girls believe they are just like everyone else, even the pro golfers..
“Why do you like Bubba Watson?”
“Because he’s special.”
“How is he special?”
“Long time ao i saw where he hit really great golf balls.”
“Tiger Woods, Phil Mickleson, Ricky Fowler. players they are the best.”4
“You think you can hit it like them?”
“Yes.” smiles Ryan.
“You do? But they are professionals.”
“I’m a pretty good golfer.’
“So next year you think you could be out there with them instead?”
Ryan may not be ready for the PGA tour yet, but the Heritage professionals were ready to be part of PEP’s big day. Several took a few seconds to sign an autograph and make some new friends.
“You get to choose your color and pattern and all that? Very cool,” said Chris Stroud as he signed.
“They look up to these golfers and its really special,” said Trey.
“Pretty special to see their reactions too?”
“Absolutely, absolutely. All smiles around here.”
PEP isn’t just about fun.
It is working each day to give these adults training in life skills so they can hopefully live on their own. PEP also teaches them skills so they can have jobs of their own, even if it’s not a professional golfer.
To learn more about PEP go to https://www.pephhi.org/