SPOFFORD, N.H. -- When it comes to golf, Bruce Gilman doesn’t consider multiple sclerosis to be a handicap.
The Guilford resident was diagnosed with the debilitating disease in 1990 but has always found a way to play. About 12 years ago, he and friend John Allen got the idea to hold a charity golf tournament to benefit organizations that help those with MS. After what Gilman calls a few years of procrastination, the two started the Pine Grove Springs Annual MS Tournament.
The ninth installment of the event is scheduled to have a shotgun scramble start at 8 a.m. on June 28, with a portion of the proceeds going to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. The cost is $65 per person and teams can have a maximum of four players. Gilman, a longtime member of Pine Grove Springs Country Club, said the $65 includes 18 holes of golf, a cart and lunch.
"There’s a lot of golf tournaments out there but what is really unique about Pine Groves is that its members have really grasped onto it and have really helped with it," he said.
Anyone interested in participating can contact 802-251-0928 or firstname.lastname@example.org or call Pine Grove Springs at 603-363-4433. Gilman told the Reformer the number of teams have been steadily increasing almost each year, though the past couple of years have leveled off at around 18.
Jim Hillier, who runs the golf course as a major stockholder alongside his wife Nancy, said he has known Gilman for more than 20 years and was interested in helping the cause when Gilman and Allen approached him with the idea.
"It’s been very successful. Everybody has a good time who’s here," said Hillier, who once served as the course’s greenskeeper for more than 30 years. He told the Reformer the highest number of people that can fit on a course at any one time is 72 and the tournament has come pretty close to that figure.
Gilman, 55, said his MS hasn’t slowed him down a bit and he plans to play in the tournament. He said he has been a golfer for about 30 years and has never let his diagnosis squash his love for the sport, though the ailment does make it more difficult for him. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the cause of MS is unknown but it affects the central nervous system and disrupts the "flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body."
Gilman told the Reformer he suffers from dropfoot, the inability to move the front of the foot due to partial paralysis. But he said he has a new brace that helps him keep up the front of his foot and prevents him from hyperextending his knee. And Gilman’s commitment isn’t lost on Jim and Nancy Hillier.
"It’s pretty amazing," said Jim Hillier. "He’ll climb up a steep hill, go into the woods -- whatever it takes (to play)."
There will be trophies for those who finish in first, second and third place.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.