FARMINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — “You can see how brave a person he is,” says Kyle Fritch of his dad, Tom.
This is Stand Up and Play Fore Tommy, a golf tournament honoring a former Walgreens manager, Tom Fritch, now suffering from ALS.
“He’s lost a lot,” says his wife, Molly Sexton Read.
But, today, the veteran, who served in the Navy, earning submarine certification, is in for a surprise. He’s being gifted a paramobile, a machine created by Anthony Netto, out of necessity.
“1991, after serving in the service, I got injured in Iraq and four years later, I got hit by a drunk driver,” says Netto who regained use of his hands but remains in a wheelchair.
The former marine loved golf and came up with this way to rise up and play the game. The rolling machine lifts someone who has lost the use of their legs into a standing position.
“It’s exhilarating,” explains Netto. “The first time I did it, I could breathe for the first time. “You can still hit a golf ball.”
It allows players like Fritch to get back into the swing of things, to feel like their old selves in a beloved landscape.
“In the Marine Corp, there’s a saying, ‘Adapt and overcome.’ I think we’ve done it pretty well,” says Netto.
Netto says it has saved lives.
“We’ve given 300 away through the Stand Up and Play Foundation to our fellow wounded or first responders,” says Netto.
For Fritch, his wife, and his sons, this is an emotional day.
“We play every Father’s Day with our dad, so we are a foursome,” says Kyle, as he holds back tears, noting that he can’t wait for next June.
A chance to look towards a bright spot…thanks to this stroke of hope.
“To be able to regain something that was an important part of his life with his boys with his friends with family will mean a lot,” his wife says. “It’s an amazing effort.”