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Lebanon veteran with paralysis receives paragolfer

Jacob Smith • May 25, 2018 at 5:53 PM

A Lebanon military veteran and paraplegic received a paragolfer device Friday as part of a partnership between CKE Restaurants Holdings and the Stand Up and Play organization.

CKE, parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants, has an annual program called Stars for Heroes, which raises money to support active-duty military, veterans and their families. It was through the program the company raised money for the paragolfer device.

Maj. Michael Thomson, a retired U.S. Army Special Forces officer, received the paragolfer device, which provides therapeutic benefits to physically limited golf players, improving metabolism, circulation and mobility. The presentation was made at Five Oaks Golf and Country Club in Lebanon.

Thomson was paralyzed from the chest down in 2016. He served the country for more than 22 years in the Middle East, the Caribbean and Latin America before his injury.

The Stand Up and Play organization is dedicated to help disabled people lead a more active lifestyle. According to the founder of the organization, Anthony Netto, who is also disabled and used the paragolfer, the device’s ability to assist the user in standing offers great health benefits to anyone in a wheelchair.

“The idea is to get the guys standing as soon as possible, preventing bedsores,” said Netto. “We need active standing on a regular basis. Even these guys who are doing a lot of sports, they’re doing swimming to marathons. They still run the risk, because they sit the whole time, of bedsores.”

Netto said while golfing in a regular wheelchair may make for a good photo-opportunity, it can actually be dangerous for the golfer.

“It’s one of the biggest dangers you could probably do to a guy in a wheelchair,” said Netto. “Those hip bones are really sharp from inside, and it could just cut through like a knife, and the guy ends up having these hip issues.”

The paragolfer device comes with a lift chair that allows the user to golf from a standing position without the danger of falling, because the person is strapped in.

Thomson said he’s excited the device will allow him to continue to golf, but it will take some time to get used to it.

“I’ve been out on it probably five times in the last week,” said Thomson. “I’ve went from probably a 10 handicap to who-knows-what now. It’s just really awkward right now. I don’t have a torso anymore, really. It’s just going to take a little bit of practice and trying to find the new right.”

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