Sports are for Everyone, otherwise known as SAFE, kicked off its summer golf program this week. More than 50 people with special needs are provided an encouraging environment to compete and socialize. For Dominic Federico, it's also about rebuilding confidence and hope.
Dominic won a chipping contest when he was nine, two years before he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
His mother, Kathleen, described the medulloblastoma, "It was the size of a grapefruit, in an 11-year-old." She added, "Dom took one look at me and first question was, I have a brain tumor, don't I? Second question, am I going to die?"
Dominic remembers, "To be honest, it was a little traumatic for me."
Dominic had emergency surgery to remove the tumor. He lived in the hospital for a year and didn't speak for a year and a half. Now, 11 years later, he's getting back to the sport he loves... with a little help from Libby Smith. Smith is one of the professional golfers that made a special appearance at the SAFE golf program this week.
"She just gave me a lot of information that made everything so much easier for me," Dom said. "She told me stuff like when I needed to back up, put a little more range between me and the ball, told me how to gold the club.
Libby enjoyed her time too. She explains, "To know he has a little background in golf and then to help get it where he's comfortable and he's able to get it on the green and chip it on the green and make contact on the driving range - that's what it's all about. That's where it's special."
And that's what makes Dominic feel special.
"The way that all the helpers treated me - it was like not as if they saw me as someone in a wheelchair, but just as a kid who was golfing and having fun," said Dom.
His mother agreed. "That's all I wanted. We wanted the family to get through in any manner and we wanted everybody to love the life they were living.
Limited spots are still available for golf. SAFE also runs soccer, basketball, bowling, baseball and fishing programs throughout the year. If you're interested in signing up or learning more about the program, visit: http://www.sportsareforeveryone.org/