Something went terribly wrong while David Bishop slept in his New Britain Home on October 1, 2010.
It wasn’t a nightmare that roused him. What happened to Bishop was real. He couldn’t walk.
Bishop suffered a spinal stroke. When he woke he was paralyzed from the waist down.
He had been an avid golfer since he retired in 2003 after 30+ years as a New Britain firefighter. Upon realizing the painful truth of his paralysis, the thought of not being able to play golf entered his mind almost immediately, he said.
“I’m not used to it at all,” Bishop said. “It’s really not for a paraplegic.”
Now he has made it his goal to raise money for a Paragolfer, which was on display at Stanley Golf Course in New Britain on Tuesday courtesy of Jerry Donovan from the Northeast Accessible Golf Association. Donovan is also paralyzed.
The Paragolfer is another specialized cart that lifts people from a sitting position to a full standing position. Not only does this help disabled golfers play, but also provides back pain reduction, improvements in breathing and circulation and osteoporosis treatment, Donovan said.
The Paragolfer is made by Ottobock, a German company specializing in health care technology, including prosthetics and mobility products. Donovan says the Paragolfer, which runs on a rechargeable battery, can get through 18 holes without a problem. In fact, it’s advertised to last 20 miles. Like many products in the health care industry, the trouble with the Paragolfer is its price tag — about $22,000.
Tuesday’s gathering was the beginning of Bishop’s fundraising efforts. Bishop would like to be able to have a tournament at Stanley in the near future. Bill DeMaio, the city’s parks and recreation director, was in attendance and said in a speech that he felt confident Bishop and the city would be able to reach the needed amount of money.
In a perfect world, Bishop would raise enough money for the course to have a Paragolfer and for him to have one of his own. For Bishop, acquiring one isn’t just about playing golf. It’s about getting a piece of his life back that he feared was long gone.
“You can play this game, it may not be exactly how you used to, but you can play it,” he said.
If you are interested in donating money to the cause, contact New Britain’s parks and recreation department.