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Inspirational golfer helps with Autism Northwest fundraiser

One-armed golfer Alex Fourie was the guest speaker at Friday’s tournament at Fort William Country Club.
One-armed golfer Alex Fourie hits the opening tee shot at Friday’s Autism Northwest golf tournament at Fort William Country Club.

THUNDER BAY – Alex Fourie had never been in Canada prior to this week.

When he was asked about making the trek to Fort William Country Club to be the guest speaker for Autism Northwest’s first golf tournament on Friday, it was an easy decision for the one-armed golfer.

“When (Autism Northwest executive director) Mark (Kehl) reached out to me earlier this year, we clicked right away,” Fourie said before making the ceremonial opening tee shot.

“I definitely want to support people that have a good heart and give back to the community at events like this. I just want to thank everyone who’s come out today, meet everybody here and hopefully hit a few good golf shots.”

Fourie, who was born in Ukraine and now calls Nashville home, had an incredible journey on his way to becoming a golfer.

Born without his right arm and living at orphanages in his native country for nearly seven years of his life, Fourie was adopted by a pair of South African missionaries who were living in the United States.

He moved with his new family to Bessemer, Ala., and eventually played a variety of sports before starting to excel on the links.

Fourie became the top-ranked one-armed golfer in the United States, competed at the first U.S. Adaptive Open at the legendary Pinehurst course in 2022 and a documentary on his journey that aired on the Golf Channel won a pair of Sports Emmy Awards last month.

“We all have a story and my goal is to inspire people to get into golf, as that avenue has opened so many doors for me,” Fourie said. “For me, golf is rehab, and I just say that it’s a professional rehab centre.”

Kehl learned about Fourie through the documentary and was gripped by the story.

“It took about 30 seconds of him listening to what Autism Northwest is all about and he wanted to come up to support us in any way that he could,” Kehl said.

“That speaks volumes to Alex’s character and who he is as a person.”

Autism Northwest, which officially started in February, is a non-profit organization that supports the families of children in the region with autism spectrum disorder.

They provide help through community initiatives, resources for recreational service and core therapies, while also bringing the community together through awareness and support of initiatives to help families navigate their journey with autism.

“We’re overwhelmed by the support we’ve gotten through the community, especially with this tournament,” Kehl said.

“Thunder Bay really rallies behind important initiatives when it comes to kids and families. This is one heck of a community to live in.”

All of the funds raised during Friday’s tournament, which were still being tabulated as of press time, will stay in the community to help with programs and services for families affected by autism.

More information on Autism Northwest can be found on their Instagram page.

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