NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio — Four years ago, when Vinny Mercurio was just 9 years old, he had a stroke that left his future uncertain. Would he be able to walk? Play? Even function? Doctors were unsure.
"Everyone else kind of just prepared us for the worst and gave us pretty grim expectations," said Vinny's dad Chuck Mercurio.
Despite the bleak prognosis, Vinny has crushed those expectations off the tee—and with the help of a Paramobile golf cart and training at The Turn, North Olmsted Golf Club's program that serves players with physical disabilities—Vinny has taken up golf. He's not too shabby at it, either.
"I'm just so strong, so I can hit it far," Vinny said.
The 13-year-old golfer is still working on his short game, although he doesn't give himself the credit he deserves.
"Chipping and putting, I am pretty bad," Vinny laughed.
The Turn program is focused on helping individuals with a broad range of physical disabilities, including stroke survivors, amputees, traumatic brain injuries, visual impairment, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and Parkinson's disease, receive physical therapy while enjoying a day on the greens.
With a team of PGA golf professionals, and fitness-oriented physical therapists and support staff from the Cleveland Clinic’s Rehabilitation and Sports Therapy department, The Turn provides its innovative programs to more than 200 individuals each year at the campus of the Wharton Center at North Olmsted Golf Club, Vinny included.
"It's meant a lot because I've gotten to meet new people here," Vinny said.
Vinny's progress reached the next level last week during an inaugural event at the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship at Firestone Country Club.
The Firestone Junior Cup made its debut and in it, 80 junior golfers, including Vinny, got the chance to play on one of the most premiere courses in the country.
To learn more about The Turn, click here.
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