Thursday at the Ryder Cup: Ryan Lord’s inspiring story [with video]

Medinah, Ill. –Ryan Lord, a College of Golf student, had a face-to-face meeting with United States Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III on Thursday.  Lord passed on some advice.

“That’s between us,” Lord said.

Lord, 30, a retired Marine from Davenport, Ia., who was injured less than a month after this country’s initial invasion into Iraq in 2003,  arrived at the Ryder Cup with his fiancée, Emily Dipple, Wednesday night. Their trip was paid for by Turner News. Lord’s story was featured on HLN’s “Salute the Troops” segment on Monday.

Lord has gone from a lost soul to an ambassador for the GIVE Foundation. GIVE (Golf for Injured Veterans Everywhere) is a not-for-profit organization for Iowa veterans who use the Iowa City VA Health Care System. Golf activities take place at Blue Top Ridge in Riverside.

Lord suffered a brain injury when a 12-mm mortar landed 10 to 15 yards away from his position. Two people in his unit were killed. Lord was knocked unconscious. He lost his hearing, but didn’t tell anyone and relied on reading lips.

Lord spent time in California after being discharged, then returned to his native Davenport. Lord became a hermit, rarely leaving home. He drank daily, was depressed and gained weight. And then GIVE came into his life in 2009

“I didn’t want to live anymore,” Lord said. “I was just losing myself. As a last-ditch effort, the VA introduced me to the GIVE organization. I went there and learned what it was all about, and I met the nicest people in the world.”

Lord thanks people like Barry Sharp and Kirt Sickels with the Iowa VA; Jim Dickerson, GIVE’s director of instruction; Lou King, GIVE’s founder; and Bryan Haas, the director of golf at Blue Top Ridge, for helping him turn his life around.

“They did more for us than what we realized at the time,” Lord said. “They made us feel like humans.”

GIVE is a four-phase program designed to enhance an injured veteran’s mental, social, physical and emotional well-being while improving their quality of life. It includes golf instruction.

“It was about teaching the veterans a better way of life, because when they get out they feel like outcasts,” Lord said. “We feel great around each other. We kept thanking them and I remember Lou King getting on the microphone and saying, “I don’t want to hear one more thank you from any of you guys. Other wise, I’m quitting.”

Lord was confused. What was King saying? Then it made sense. We’re thanking you, King was telling them. Don’t thank us.

“We all kind of looked at each other in a weird way,” Lord said. “We couldn’t figure it out. But now I get it.”

Lord has used the GIVE program as a springboard to future endeavors. He approached Haas and told him he wanted to get into the golf industry.
“He was tickled to death that I had asked him,” Lord said.

Lord enrolled in a golf school in Florida, spending a year-and-a-half getting a degree  in golf business management. He returned from Florida last Friday. Haas had promised Lord that he’d have an apprentice position waiting for him when he returned. Lord starts that position next week.

“He’s kept his word,” Lord said.

Lord and Dipple, who now reside in Riverside, will get married Oct. 13. Lord’s long-range goal is to help veterans thrive in his own way.

(GIVE) saved my life,” Lord said. “I want to get out there and save other lives. And I want it to go beyond Iowa. I want it nationwide. They deserve it.”

In addition to Love, Lord also met Allen Wronowski, president of the PGA of America; four-star General Edward Rice of San Antonio, Texas; and fellow Iraq War veteran Maj. Ed Pulido of Edmond, Okla., who is now the vice president of military affairs for The Folds of Honor Foundation.

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