KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the first time in their lives, those dealing with spinal cord injuries will be able to golf using a new device donated to a Kansas City Golf Course.
The “Para Golfer”, otherwise known as the “Para Mobile”, is a modified wheelchair where the person is belted in and then able to lift it up to a standing position. This will allow the user to hit a golf club, shoot at skeet, go fishing or play catch, things many paraplegics have been unable to do – until now.
“It helps the blood flow,” said Anthony Netto, the inventor of the device and founder of the Stand Up and Play Foundation. “It helps the spasticity. It prevents osteoporosis. This gives you the opportunity to stand using the belts. The waist belt, the hip belt, the knee belt. It holds us securely so there’s no friction from a sitting position to a standing position.”
Netto suffered a spinal cord injury while fighting in the Persian Gulf War in 1991. A lover of golf, he struggled to continue playing in the traditional wheelchair. With some friends, they developed this new type of wheelchair to allow paraplegics to stand and play.
“For me, being in a wheelchair, I’m pretty stuck,” Netto said. “This is the only alternative that we’ve had that’s really given me my life back. I’ve been able to teach my son golf, and I’ve been able to help a lot of people out there. That’s medicine for me.”
The cost for a “Para Golfer” is around $30,000, but Netto’s Stand Up and Play Foundation partners with corporations to make the chairs more affordable to those who need them. So far, the Foundation has helped get 90 of them to disabled golfers and golf courses across the nation.
Netto’s “Para Golfer” will be available at the Heart of America Golf Course at Swope Park in Kansas City, MO. The owner of the Corner Bakery Café helped buy it and then donated it to Kansas City Parks and Rec. It will be available for disabled golfers to use for free if they want to swing their clubs at the driving range or play nine holes.
To learn more about the “Para Golfer”, you can go to standupandplay.org.