The Tesori Family Foundation packed The Yards for one of its annual All-Star kids clinics for children with special needs held during the week of THE PLAYERS.
Paul and Michelle Tesori began the foundation years ago after their son Isaiah was diagnosed with down syndrome, and it remains an initiative close to their hearts.
“The Tesori Family Foundation has been focused on kids for a long time, and it has been a real blessing to kids, especially in this north Florida area,” PGA Tour golfer Webb Simpson said. “I have five kids of my own so I love coming and any chance I get to be around kids and see them excited about golf.”
Simpson, who Paul Tesori caddied for during the 2023 PLAYERS Championship, made a guest appearance at the clinic and interacted with the children before they got their own opportunity to hit golf balls like the pros do. He won the 2012 U.S. Open and the 2018 PLAYERS Championship.
“I remember getting an up-close view of what Paul and Michelle went through when Isaiah was born,” Simpson said. “Life will throw a lot of curveballs at us, but through all of it their anchor was in Jesus. They knew God had a perfect plan for Isaiah’s life and their life. It was a blessing as a friend to get to see up close and personal.”
He began working with Paul Tesori in 2011 and it has really developed into a lasting friendship over the years.
“It started out with him as essentially my big brother teaching me all that I needed to be taught,” Simpson chuckled. “What started out as a professional relationship and really turned into him being one of my best friends in the whole world.”
D.J. Gregory was also on hand and spoke with the children about perseverance, having been through his share himself after being born with cerebral palsy and his parents were told he would never walk.
However, Gregory was determined to prove his doubters wrong and has walked more than 14,000 miles at PGA Tour events since 2008 while raising money for his Walking For Kids Foundation at the same time. He was named a recipient of the PGA Tour’s Courage Award in February 2022.
“Every one of these out here has a goal and a dream, and everybody should be given that rightful chance to achieve their goals and dreams,” Gregory said. “Anybody can play golf and it doesn’t matter what your skill level is. It really teaches so many life lessons.”
One message that Simpson wanted to get across to the children in attendance was that golf is a hard game, but it is also all about having fun.
“I’m one of the best in the world, and I’ll be playing over here across the street (at TPC Sawgrass), but I’m still going to hit some really bad shots,” Simpson said. “It’s important to remember to not get to frustrated and just enjoy it. It’s all about getting a little bit better each and every day.”
After watching Gregory, Simpson and Paul Tesori each hit a one-handed tee shot, the children got the chance to take part in various drills as part of the clinic that worked on all aspects of their game from putting to chipping and driving, as they enjoyed the entire golf experience.
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