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Justin, a young man in his early twenties, learned to golf last week; from a Toronto pro none the less! It was March the 3rd and the snow was piled deep, while the temperature hovered below the freezing point, yet there they stood with a pristine green fairway spread out before them, with the golf ball at their feet, all teed up.

The former pro, turned globally recognized trick shot golf entertainer and now CEO of Paragolf Canada, was in Kingston to help inaugurate Extend-a-Family’s recently installed  super realistic and accurate golf simulator.   

Extend-a-Family is an agency founded to support persons with physical and intellectual disabilities to live a complete and whole life. With that goal in mind they recently refocused their program with the goal of maximizing assistive technology. It was during this process that lead Extend-a-Family Executive Director and visionary Paul McGarvey to search out and meet with another visionary Paragolf Canada founder, Todd Keirstead.

McGarvey told me, “I went to my barber’s one day and happened upon an old high school friend who worked for About Golf, a manufacturer of golf simulators.” He went on to say “I asked him if they had ever modified a simulator for a client who was physically handicapped?” They had and it had an automatic T setter-upper just like the one now in the Extend-a-Family facility.

McGarvey, being the ever astute entrepreneur, knew he likely had the lottery licence to raise the funds needed for the purchase and after checking with the city’s licensing officer Angela Patterson got her endorsement to use their existing Bingo licence and then went looking for a partner and using LinkedIN found Paragolf’s Todd Keirstead.

Further meetings with Todd, resulted in EAFK joining forces with PARAGOLF Canada to become the southeastern Ontario partner representative for their fantastic program.

Todd Keirstead’s journey to the opening of the EAFK golfing simulator was equally fascinating. As a PGA quality pro, Keirstead took his exceptional skill with a golf ball and club to  the level of global entertainer. Then one day he was entertaining a group of wounded veterans in America’s army and as he hit the ball blindfolded, or with one arm, or on one leg or no legs at all it dawned on him that he was showing his audience that they too could still play golf and he came home to Canada and founded Paragolf Canada in 2021.

Two people with the same vision of inclusion and diversity for all peoples regardless of what might appear like barriers had met and the result was the inauguration of EAFK’s new golf simulator which was about to occur.

In the gathering was the city’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Vincent Cinanni, EAFK staff and a number of EAFK participants among them one named Justin, who, after the official ribbon cutting ceremony was over, came forward when Todd asked if one of them wanted to be a golfer.


The Ribbon Cutting and First Swing

To watch Keirstead instruct Justin made me wish I’d had the same kind of positive and patient instruction Justin was getting and maybe today I would actually enjoy the game. Watch this video and see for yourself.
In conclusion McGarvey said, "We are committed to enhancing the quality of life of individuals of all abilities through the sport of Golf. EAFK will utilize the Golf simulator to train people of all abilities year round and to teach the game of Golf while integrating at the golf course seasonally. We are committed to working with ParaGolf, who will lead the way in developing relationships and opportunities for people of all abilities to access and utilize golf courses in the area."
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