D.J. Gregory has loved golf since he was just 12-years-old. He became passionate about the sport after his dad took him to the 1990 Greater Greensboro Open. Yet, he never dreamed he’d ever be able to play the game professionally or even become a caddie, since his parents were told when he was just a baby that he had cerebral palsy and would probably need a wheelchair the rest of his life. Yet, as an adult, he’s not only proven that he doesn’t need a wheelchair, but that he can participate in his favorite sport.
THV11 reports that Gregory partnered up with the PGA Tour to raise money for his charitable organization, Walking for Kids Foundation, and to help raise awareness about cerebral palsy. He’s been walking with the PGA Tour since 2008, and last week, he walked every hole with PGA Pro, Colt Knost, in Fort Worth, Texas. The pro golfer stated that Gregory is defying the odds while showing children that their dreams can come true, despite disabilities.
“He’s beat the odds in what he’s doing right now. He’s definitely not supposed to be able to be doing what he’s doing.”
While walking alongside Knost with the help of a cane, Gregory joked about the way he walked and even made a bet on how many times he’d fall.
“I know I walk funny, but I’m used to it.”
While laughing, Knost added,
“He made [the bet] up. I guess his record is eight falls in a year. So I told him I’ll double what I give him, if he breaks his record — and he’s on pace right now. So I keep watching to make sure he doesn’t get too many rides out there.”
Gregory takes turns walking with different players each week. He’s on Tour as much as the pro players, and stated that although he left home on January 4, he doesn’t expect to return until October. It’s all worth it to him. He’s already raised $600,000 for his charity in eight years, but his ultimate goal is to raise $1 million.
The Walking for Kids Foundation raises money each year when PGA Tour players make a money pledge for each eagle and birdie that they make for the week. When asked why he started the foundation and what he hoped to accomplish, Gregory answered,
“After some thought and discussions I have decided to start my own Foundation and raise money for children’s charities from coast to coast. The goal of my Foundation will be to raise money and help children of all ages realize and live out their dreams and goals, as I did in 2008.”
His goals continue to pay off, so much so that PGA Tour Vice President Ty Votaw spoke about Gregory in 2008, stating that Gregory’s passion and dedication is an inspiration to anyone who wants to understand just how passionate some people can be about golf.
“He has helped people understand how passionate people feel about the PGA TOUR and its players. He’s an inspirational story.”
Gregory’s love for the game inspired him to start playing with a cane he embedded in his life hand as a child. The cane helped him retain balance while playing the game he loved. It became a personal challenge for him to beat all odds and walk with the PGA pro golfers. Although he didn’t plan to become such an inspiration to others, his drive and dedication are hard to overlook, especially to other children with cerebral palsy who have dreams of their own, and need a role model similar to themselves to show that anything can accomplished.
“This is a personal challenge,” Gregory said in 2008. “I’m not looking to be inspirational. But if that’s what’s happening, this is my message: If you have a dream, go for it. Don’t listen to people say you can’t do it.”