PGA HOPE National Golf & Wellness Week (NG&WW) is a unique opportunity for Veterans who possess the motivation to excel in their personal rehabilitation journey and represent their local PGA HOPE community on a national level. PGA REACH, the 501(c)(3) charitable foundation of the PGA of America, hosts 20 Veterans and graduates of a PGA HOPE program from various PGA Section’s across the country.
For the third year in a row, PGA REACH Nebraska, the charitable arm of the Nebraska Section PGA, will be represented at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland for the four day event. U.S. Army Veteran Dallas Brekeen of Bellevue, Nebraska graduated from PGA REACH Nebraska’s PGA HOPE program in Omaha back in 2019. A few years later, he was nominated for a journey that will have a lasting effect on his life.
Brekeen will join David Karl and Shawn Donald as PGA HOPE Ambassadors for PGA REACH Nebraska. Ambassadors play an instrumental role in planning, strategizing and executing PGA HOPE programs. In addition, Brekeen will receive a tool kit of new skills focused on advanced golf instruction and impactful wellness training. This curriculum is an extension to what Veterans have been learning throughout the years at their home PGA HOPE programs.
“From graduating in 2019 to now becoming a leader for this program is all exciting and I can’t wait to see where this takes me. I’ve seen how important this program is for our Veteran community and this gives me a way to give back.”
Earlier this year, Brekeen attended the 2022 PGA HOPE Secretary’s Cup alongside other Veterans and PGA Professional Mark Nygaard. The team competed in a scramble event against other programs from around the country all while sharing their own experiences in the military with Veterans from all over. In addition, they attended the 2022 PGA Championship where Brekeen was able to meet Jordan Spieth. The week was full of memories he will never forget and this is when his passion for PGA HOPE truly sparked. He felt motivated to make his own impact on the program and the NG&WW has given him that opportunity.
“I want to see our PGA HOPE programs continue to to grow to reach a point where we are one of the biggest across the country. I want to know that I had a part in making that happen. I think PGA HOPE National Golf & Wellness Week is going to teach me in a way that will set me up for success,” said Brekeen.
PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) is a national program that introduces golf to military Veterans with disabilities to enhance their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being. PGA HOPE helps veterans assimilate back into their communities through the social interaction the game provides. Three programs (Omaha, Lincoln & Kearney) have continued to grow in size each season and nearly 200 Veterans have joined the PGA HOPE Nebraska family since its inception.
PGA REACH Managing Director Seth Scollard, PGA will attend his first NG&WW alongside Brekeen.
“Ambassadors are the champions of PGA HOPE. They fully embrace the entire program, from engaging with the Veterans to recruiting more to join while representing the local Sections on a national level. Dallas is constantly introducing our program back home to more and more Veterans each year and he will make a great addition to the team,” said Scollard.
Throughout the four days in Washington, D.C., PGA Professional Joe Wiegand, PGA of Benson Park Golf Course will experience the national event in his own way learning from the top adaptive teaching PGA Professionals from around the country. Wiegand has been involved with PGA REACH Nebraska through PGA HOPE, Clubs FORE Youth and Omaha Outreach.
U.S. Air Force Veteran David Karl and U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Shawn Donald both went through the PGA HOPE Nebraska program before they were each nominated for PGA HOPE National Golf & Wellness Week. Karl went through the four-day event in 2020 with Shawn taking part in it in 2021. Since becoming Ambassadors for PGA HOPE Nebraska, Karl and Donald have played instrumental roles in the growth and development of all three programs in our Section. They both attribute their success and personal development from what they learned in Washington, D.C. at NG&WW.
“I’m looking forward to Dallas becoming our third Nebraska Ambassador for several reasons, but mainly because he will reach out to younger generations of Veterans that David (Karl) and I can’t,” said Donald. Karl added, “Looking back at my experience at Congressional Country Club, I am beyond excited for Dallas. From the history of the property, to walking through the halls of Congressional and to think about who has passed through those same halls, it’s amazing.”
The culmination of the program will include a golf outing at Congressional Country Club, where the Veterans will play golf alongside PGA Professionals and dignitaries at the acclaimed facility that has hosted major championships, including this year’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Congressional is also scheduled to host seven additional PGA of America championships through 2037, including the Ryder Cup, PGA Championship, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, PGA Professional Championship and Junior PGA Championships.
In addition, two-time PGA Champion (1970; 1976 at Congressional) and 1991 United States Ryder Cup Captain Dave Stockton will serve as a special guest, interacting with the Veterans during the week. In addition, Adm. William McRaven will be a featured speaker at the PGA National Day of HOPE Sponsor Dinner.
The week will also serve as a prelude to the 6th PGA National Day of HOPE on Veterans Day, Friday, Nov. 11. The PGA National Day of HOPE celebration has two goals: Commemorate our nation’s heroes who protect our freedom; and raise awareness and support for PGA HOPE, the flagship military program for PGA REACH. PGA REACH Nebraska has launched their own fundraising campaign in an effort to raise funds that will directly impact their local HOPE programs. Every $1 (up to $5000) that is raised in Nebraska will be matched by the national PGA REACH.
To make a donation to PGA HOPE Nebraska and the PGA National Day of HOPE Campaign, please click here.
Follow along on PGA REACH Nebraska’s social media channels (@PGAREACHNeb) for content from NG&WW and Dallas Brekeen’s four-day journey in the nation’s capital.