Rizk Ventures was honored and proud to once again sponsor Operation Game On’s Annual Golf Classic, a charity event that took place on August 10th, 2015 at the Morgan Run Club & Resort in Rancho Sante Fe, California. The Golf Classic was held to raise money for Operation Game On (OGO), an innovative nonprofit golf program that helps rehabilitate returning combat-injured troops suffering from physical disabilities and PTSD. Playing with the OGO members is all the evidence you would need to document the significant impact OGO has had on the combat-wounded heroes involved in the program. Rizk Ventures’ and CHTCS’ Lt. Col. James Wiley, a 31 year military veteran, and I were in attendance and played during the event. The day was filled with joy, laughter, and of course some light-hearted competition.
OGO was founded by PGA Professional Pat Perez’s father, Tony Perez, and works directly with the PGA and TaylorMade to provide combat-injured troops with a unique introductory golf program that helps to rehabilitate them both physically and mentally. If anyone was to doubt the impact that Tony Perez has had on those involved with OGO, just play a round of golf with one of its members. The program’s success is unmistakable after spending the day with the wonderful men and women of OGO on the course.
The day kicked off with a meet and greet but it wasn’t long until the players began to tee off and the real fun started. I had the privilege of playing with three of Operation Game On’s members, USMC Veteran Cpl. Nick Kimmel, Navy Veteran Lt. Kat Wacker, and USMC Major Doug Cullins. Cpl. Kimmel lost both of his legs and his left arm during his tour in Afghanistan, but that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his love of sports. Cpl. Kimmel was a top baseball prospect and scratch golfer in high school, and is working his way to becoming a scratch golfer once again. Lt. Wacker and Major Cullins, both members of the US military fighting through PTSD, had great attitudes, golfed terrifically, and were wonderful to be around. Lt. Wacker is one of the toughest people I have met and is a great role model for women, both within and outside the military. Major Cullins‘ sheer tenacity on the course represented his strong will and “never give up” attitude that has helped him survive the challenges of war. It was obvious from the beginning of the day that all three individuals had unstoppable spirits, much like all of the members of OGO.
Following play, the OGO PGA instructors were honored for their hard work and dedication to the injured service men and women. Without them, OGO would not be what it is today. Other notable individuals in attendance were Veteran Sergeant First Class Jacque Keeslar, a 20-year Army veteran who continued to serve on active duty after being severely injured while serving in Iraq and OGO Advisory Board member, and Brigadier General Daniel Yoo, who came out to support his military brothers and sisters.
Often brought up during the event was OGO’s newest program, the OGO Home Town Veterans Golf Program. Many applicants to OGO are not local to the San Diego area and/or are discharged prior to coming off the waiting list and attending OGO’s golf program. With the new Home Town Veterans Golf Program, combat-injured troops are put in contact with PGA Pro’s local to them and receive eight weeks of lessons and a custom set of TaylorMade golf clubs, all paid for by OGO. This program will begin in South Carolina, but they are working hard to make it available throughout the country. Classroom24-7, a Rizk Ventures’ company, will be working with OGO to develop PGA Pro instruction videos and offer them via its Learning Management System (LMS) to benefit the members of OGO. We hope that this platform will be made available to all OGO participants, including those involved in the Home Town Veteran Golf Program.
We at Rizk Ventures are always blown away by the bravery and determination exhibited by the members of OGO who have made great sacrifices in the name of our country. They truly are heroes and we are always honored to support Operation Game On’s efforts to help those heroes when they need it most. It was our privilege to have sponsored such an amazing event and we can’t wait for next year!