By Cindy Elliott
As PGA TOUR players Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas celebrated back-to-back aces on No.4 during the annual Par-3 Contest at The Masters, U.S. Army Corporal Kevin McCloskey was celebrating his own victory – being able to traverse the hallowed fairways of Augusta National carrying the bag of PGA TOUR player Graeme McDowell with two prosthetic legs. The journey would be challenging for anyone, given Augusta’s notoriously hilly terrain; but for someone with a bilateral amputation, notes McCloskey’s prosthetist, Prosthetic Innovations Owner Tim Rayer, the feat was nothing short of amazing.
“Kevin’s bilateral lower extremity amputations (TF-TT) require him to exert over 200% more energy than the average person,” notes Rayer. “Imagine walking up and down a steep stairway all day long carrying someone on your back, and that is the effect that merely walking on flat terrain has on a double amputee. Add the weight of the golf bag and the hilly, uneven terrain, and Kevin’s accomplishment was incredible.”
Rayer flew to Augusta with his 11 year-old son to witness what Corporal McCloskey called a very meaningful, very special experience, which was made possible by the generosity of Moet Hennessy USA – leading importer and marketer of luxury wines, spirits and champagnes in North America – in partnership with the PGA TOUR’s Birdies for the Brave initiative.
“I am speechless,” said McCloskey afterwards. “Truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I am very grateful to Mr. McDowell for his kindness, and to Moet Hennessy and Birdies for the Brave for making this happen. I’d also like to acknowledge my prosthetist, Tim Rayer, who has made so many things possible through his expert care and personal passion for helping amputees affected by trauma.”
CPL McCloskey was driving in a convoy with the 506th Infantry Regiment (4th Brigade), 101st Airborne Division, in Logar Province, Afghanistan in 2008, when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device (IED). He doesn’t remember much of the accident, but has been told that he saw the pressure board and swerved to avoid it, taking the majority of the blast himself. The explosion resulted in the loss of both legs, vision loss in his right eye, extensive burns and a traumatic brain injury. CPL McCloskey, a competitive athlete in high school, didn’t think he would be able to play or compete in sports again, but soon found a love for golf. He credits the game with helping him rehabilitate both physically and psychologically, and Rayer with dramatically improving his mobility while reducing pain and other side effects of prosthetics.
Rayer, an avid golfer, specializes in the design and fit of very complex polytrauma patients including bi-lateral TF, Hip/Hemipelvectomy as well as upper extremity amputations. Prosthetic Innovations boasts clients from more than 30 states and nine countries, including those suffering from typically difficult-to-fit amputation levels. Rayer and his team founded Prosthetic Innovations, LLC 10 years ago to provide the best possible outcome for individuals who have suffered amputation due to trauma, injury or cancer.
Rayer and his fellow clinicians take a unique approach to prosthetics by designing, continually refining and providing continued prosthetic care for each client to ensure optimal comfort, functionality and safety. The company maintains a state-of-the-art facility in Pennsylvania with an on-site fabrication laboratory and performance-specific exercise equipment including a gait harness system.
For more information about Birdies for the Brave, please visit www.birdiesforthebrave.org.