Brandon Dial understands the unique challenges that come with raising a special needs child, so he wanted to find a way to raise funds and show support for local families of children with special needs.
With financial support from local businesses and sponsors, such as South State Bank, Dial – owner of an Augusta Law firm and father of five, created a golf clinic for special needs children between the ages of 8 and 18 called the All-Star Kids Clinic. He and his wife, Maura, have a 2-year-old son named Ryan, who was born with Down’s syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes children to be born with an extra chromosome. “We had our first clinic in November 2019, and we raised about $30,000,” says Dial. This year’s clinic, a free event for up to 40 children, will be held on Monday, Oct. 25 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at First Tee Augusta located at 3165 Damascus Road. As of Thursday morning, Oct. 14, he states there are about 10 slots still available. Dinner will also be provided for the children, parents, and volunteers after the clinic.
Most of the funds go to the Tesori Family Foundation, which supports a variety of causes, including programs for special needs children. Paul Tesori – who also has a son with Down’s syndrome, is a caddie and former golfer on the PGA Tour. He states some of the funds are used to support local parents who give birth to babies with Down’s by distributing Buddy Baskets, which contain gift certificates, stuffed animals, and books about raising a special needs child. Dial explains one thing he and his wife had to learn was “how to explain Down’s syndrome to our other children.”
The event gives children the opportunity to learn basic golf skills through one-on-one instruction. “It’s a fun learning environment,” Dial says. Children rotate through a series of stations that focus on teaching specific skills, such as putting. A professional golfer also works with the kids. In 2019, Augusta native Vaughn Taylor attended the clinic. Dial states he’s not sure which golfer will come to this year’s event. He explains he enjoys seeing “the pure joy on the children’s faces.” Each child receives a medal and praise for their participation in the clinic. “They just beam from ear to ear,” Dial adds.
He explains the event helps families of special needs children learn they’re not alone. It provides a “connection with other families” by “encouraging a greater sense of community,” Dial states. Due to COVID-19, the event was canceled in 2020. “After the first clinic, we knew we had to do it again,” he says. “We have enough volunteers; the response from the community has been fantastic.”
To register your child for the event, visit www.tesorifamilyfoundation.org/askc.