When: Oct. 12. The rain date is Nov. 2.
Where: Royal Lakes Golf and Country Club, 4700 Royal Lakes Drive
Entry fee: $100 per golfer; hole sponsors, $100
Contact: Brian Shockley, 678-467-6621
CHESTNUT MOUNTAIN — They found common ground on the golf course, a place Kenny Pope has been absent from since a May 2008 paralyzing accident.
So it is there among the tees and putting greens that Brian Shockley has decided to lend a hand.
“A few months after Kenny fell and during his rehab and everything, I felt a call from God to do something for Kenny, and I thought that a golf tournament would be a good idea just as a celebration of his life,” said Shockley, who lives in Flowery Branch.
He is working to organize the Kenny Pope Life Celebration Open, set for Oct. 12 at Royal Lakes Golf and Country Club in South Hall.
The rain date is Nov. 2.
A registration deadline has been set for Friday, but Shockley said the tourney will accept golfers up until the event.
So far, “we’ve had very good support from the community, from friends and family, Kenny’s co-workers,” Shockley said. His first cousin, Teri Pope, is married to Kenny.
“People I don’t even know how Kenny is connected to have contributed financially.”
The goal is to raise at least $3,500 for a piece of equipment, a standing frame, to help Pope stand. Since his accident, he has been confined to a wheelchair.
“Based on my projections and what I think we’re going to (raise), I think we’re going to definitely be able to purchase that and there’ll probably be some money left over,” Shockley said.
The Popes said the standing frame would come in handy.
“Just being vertical is such a feeling of relief since he can’t do that on his own,” Teri Pope said, “and it helps with circulation and stretching.”
Kenny Pope said, “We were really humbled and thankful to know that ... he really wanted to do that for us” more than a year after the accident.
Shockley asked the couple’s OK in going forward.
“We’re like, if you feel like the Lord’s leading you to do it, then what are we going to do?” Kenny Pope said.
“We’re just thankful. Our community continues to support us. ... We have people who still bring us food, help do things around the house ... so this is just another thing that is happening that falls into that bucket.”
Kenny Pope’s ordeal began on a windy Mother’s Day 2008, when he went to fix a satellite dish on top of his house. He climbed up a ladder, reached the roof, then fell on his way back down.
“I remember hitting and I knew immediately that my legs were unplugged,” he said in an interview last year.
What followed was an ambulance ride to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville and then months of recovery, rehabilitation and training for a whole new set of life skills at the Shepherd Center, a catastrophic care hospital in Atlanta.
Since then, “I’ve noticed I’ve been able to do a lot more as far as moving myself around, in and out of the bed, on and off the furniture, doing all the daily routine things,” Pope said.
“One thing I’ve been struggling with a bit has been some pain in my back and it’s right at the level of my paralysis,” he said.
While at Shepherd, Pope was able to play golf using a machine that allowed him to take strokes in a standing position. The machine doubled as a golf cart, taking him to the next hole.
It would be nice to have, but the price tag — nearly $18,000 — is prohibitive.
“That’s a car, a nice car,” his wife said.
“Regardless of how that goes, knowing that there is something out there that would allow me to play golf, something that I love, showed me that I could do anything I wanted to do,” he said.
Shockley is familiar with the machine.
“That may be something we look at in the future, if we’re able to continue the tournament,” he said. “That might be a goal for the next year or two down the line.”