This story was originally published on Sun-Sentinel on January 16th, 2022
The annual tournament helps secure financial assistance for those with spinal cord injuries.
The indomitable spirit of Anthony Purcell continues to inspire countless people who have been affected by spinal cord injuries.
The former Cardinal Gibbons High School basketball player who suffered a spinal cord injury from a swimming accident in 2010 that left him paralyzed is committed to helping other victims.
Having an athletic background and receiving tremendous support from his mother Micki was essential in the challenging recovery process. Today, Purcell can now stand with the help of a walker, drive a car, work out, is married and runs a successful business.
The Fort Lauderdale resident said he was impressed with the turnout and happy to have a positive impact on the lives of other spinal cord injury victims.
“I’m not aware of any other charities like ours that are capable of doing what we do,” Purcell said. “We are more like a 911. When someone gets injured, they reach out to us because they don’t know what to do. When a patient is ready, I’ll get on the phone to give them hope and let them know everything will be fine. We stay with them and guide them through the process of rehab while answering their questions.”
Besides the annual golf tournament, the foundation has conducted other charitable events that have taken place at Soldier Field in Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.
“This is a very expensive injury, and we try our best to help others,” said Walking With Anthony founder Micki Purcell. “We continue to raise more money because so many people reach out to us for assistance. It is something that we had to endure, and it is heart-wrenching. We are reaching out to other sponsors to assist us and are hoping to raise more money to get to the next level. We need to help people and we are committed to changing people’s lives.”
The Walking with Anthony Charity Celebrity Golf Tournament and Dinner celebrated its eighth anniversary at the Coral Ridge Country Club and raised $450,000. The mission of the fundraiser is to secure financial assistance for people who have suffered spinal cord injuries for the expensive medical costs involved.
For the first seven years, the golf tournament took place in Virginia before coming back to Anthony’s hometown in Fort Lauderdale where his high school and college friends were there to support the cause. Plans are already underway for the ninth annual Walking With Anthony Golf Tournament to return to Coral Ridge Country Club on May 22 next year.
The Walking With Anthony Charity Celebrity Golf Tournament foursome was all about having fun on the links at the Coral Ridge Country Club.
Since its inception, the Walking With Anthony Foundation has raised over $4.5 million for education on injury prevention and to support research and rehabilitation for spinal cord injury recovery. Financial grants are offered to people who have sustained a spinal cord injury. A $10,000 award check was presented to Deonte Shuler, a 19-year-old high school senior.
The star-studded golf tournament attracted celebrities like Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Jamel Dean, WWE’s Dean Muhtadi, and former NFL players Chris Spencer, Mike Caussin and Danny Kanell. State Rep. Chip LaMarca and representatives of the Broward Children’s Center were on hand to lend their support.
A total of 128 golfers hit the links at Coral Ridge Country Club. Over 200 attendees came to the function.
The low score team of Jerry Sander, Jay Boring, Mark Kreisel and JJ Sehlke took top honors. The Tito’s foursome of Greg Astle, Aren Cupp, Jon Hanselman ad Guido Carvajal captured second place and the Papa’s Raw Bar foursome of Jimmy Lytle, Matt Williams, Oren Cantor and Matt Clary came in third place.
The Women’s Long Drive Contest winner was Cathy Hamilton, while the Men’s Long Drive contest champion was Sean Schwartz. Closest to the pin honors went to Kyle Bruening.
From the moment the accident happened, Anthony had the support of his family, and his mother Micki sprang into action. The author of “Walking With Anthony” is always motivated to assist the victims and their families during the difficult transition period.
“There is no longterm health care; the medical field turned its back on us and other spinal cord injury victims,” she said. “We witnessed other families struggling and crying and in a lot of pain. We decided to start this charity to help people. This is a very hard mental recovery. I think Anthony’s involvement in our charity helped his own recovery.”
Anthony is there to offer other victims an encouraging sign of hope and direction. The focus on mental health is key and that leads the way to better physical health. The support of family is imperative.
“Once I witnessed what we were doing with my own eyes and seeing the impact we were making on other people’s lives, I was all in. I getjoy out of giving,” he said. “The first year was definitely the toughest and the physical side is a challenge, but the real battle is in your head. Luckily, I have ingrained in my brain the mentality to never give up and fight through it. Mentally you can go into dark places, but you must celebrate the small victories. I was lucky to have the support of my mom, friends and family, especially my cousin Tommy.”