Beating Death — Twice

Eye To Eye: Golf Prodigy (CBS News)

While laid up in bed over the weekend, I had the opportunity to catch up on some of my favorite television programs. One being HGTV (where I get my fantastic remodeling ideas… hehehe)

The other being various sports channels.  I was moved to tears watching the amazing story of  5 year old Kyle Lograsso. If you get a chance to watch HBO, please check out Real Sports episode 124, which will air thru the first week of August.

Kyle the son of Regina and Marine staff sergeant Jeff Lograsso beat death the first time when he was diagnosed with cancer in both eyes. His parents were told that he must have his his left eye removed immediately or he would die within 3 months. 

He beat death the second time while on chemo. He had a severe fever and was gasping for air. His mother, Regina tried to rush him to the emergency room. She was not sure if he would make it that far and pulled into a stranger’s driveway and had the home owner call 911. His little had body developed a blood clot.  

I had chills watching this amazing young man and his family. Kyle is so full of life! I won’t ruin it for you and tell of everything on the HBO special. But, watch and see his radiant spirit, his impish behavior, his zest for life. (The practical joke he plays on his sister and the way he describes the event are priceless!)

From The NEPA News 

Child overcame cancer to become a star on the green

Standing on the green at the 12th hole, Jeff Lograsso, 32, couldn’t sink his putt.

Neither, for that matter, could Jim Church, a 74-year-old avid golfer. Playing best ball at Indian Valley Country Club in Franconia, Montgomery County, the two men needed their third teammate, Kyle Lograsso, to help them out.

Unaffected by the wet surface and a misty rain, Kyle lined up his putter, lowered his head, drew back his club and effortlessly tapped the white golf ball. It rolled straight into the hole, earning his team a birdie on the par 5 hole.

It was a masterful shot, delivered by a pint-sized putter. Kyle, just one week past his fifth birthday, is a pro _ amazing family and friends, attracting media attention and causing fellow golfers to seek out his advice.

And if that’s not enough, Kyle Lograsso does it all with just one eye.

At age 2, Kyle Lograsso was diagnosed with cancer in both eyes. Months of chemotherapy and the eventual removal of his left eye haven’t stopped him from pursuing his passion.

 Today, he’s cancer-free and three times a week he can be found playing the sport he learned simply by watching television.

To date, the preschooler has shot a 41 on nine holes and can drive the ball about 170 yards. (numbers in red changed to reflect his current achievements)

On June 4, Kyle Lograsso teed off with players 60 and 70 years his senior at Grand View Hospital Auxiliary’s 34th annual golf tournament, which hopes to raise about $30,000 for the West Rockhill medical center. His team included his dad, Jeff Lograsso, and Church, a radio sportscaster for WNPV in Lansdale.

Kyle Lograsso and Church made an interesting duo as the youngest and oldest players out on the course. But that didn’t bother Church. “It’s a real thrill for me,” he said.

Sporting his white golf cleats, khaki pants and blue visor, Kyle Lograsso is forever the competitor, even complaining when his dad sliced a ball toward some trees.

“There you go, ball into the woods,” Kyle Lograsso said. Dad’s reply: “The trees got in the way.”

Jeff Lograsso, a Marine staff sergeant stationed at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, calls himself Kyle’s caddy. Although his game has improved since the pair started playing, they don’t keep score. That’s because Kyle Lograsso keeps beating him.

Jeff Lograsso and his wife, Regina, are former softball players. Both are at a loss to explain why Kyle became interested in golf.

“We knew nothing about golf,” said Regina Lograsso, a native Virginian. “We kept taking the golf club out of his hand to give him a bat.”

But Kyle Lograsso was hooked on golf.

His devotion to the game started when he was still in diapers. The military family was living in Japan and Korea and had access to the Golf Channel on TV. Kyle Lograsso was mesmerized by what he saw and began imitating the players, taking a particular liking to superstar Tiger Woods and fellow lefty Phil Mickelson.

It was around this time that the Lograsso family got the news no one wants to hear. Kyle was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer in both eyes caused by a genetic mutation, said Regina.

The family, which also includes 13-year-old Kristen and 10-year-old Kaley, came back to the United States for Kyle’s treatment, which included six months of chemotherapy and the removal of his left eye. Kyle Lograsso was later fitted with a prosthetic eye.

During his recovery, Kyle Lograsso’s fervor for golf grew even stronger. “He got big into watching it. He was limited to what he could do as far as going out to play. It took off from there,” Regina Lograsso said.

Kyle Lograsso began swinging a set of plastic golf clubs around their Perkasie home and even took down a bookcase with his seven-iron. So Jeff Lograsso decided it was time to get the toddler out on a real golf course.

A novice himself, Jeff Lograsso wanted to have a professional look at Kyle. “I didn’t want to steer him in the wrong direction,” he said.

He made more than a dozen phone calls and got the same response: wait until Kyle is 5.
Then Jeff Lograsso made one more call, to Lederach Golf Club in Lower Salford, where Bob Huber, director of instruction, agreed to look at Kyle. The youngster teed up a ball and “just smoked it, 30 yards right down the fairway. He teed up 35 balls and hit 30 straight,” the proud dad said.

Huber was impressed, not only by the youngster’s skill, but by his ability to overcome his handicap.

“You can’t tell he doesn’t have an eye. He has great hand-eye coordination, a great golf swing,” said Huber, who didn’t start playing in tournaments himself until the ripe old age of 10.

Kyle Lograsso joined the club’s golf association, and he and his dad are regulars on the Montgomery County course. Carts often slow down so other golfers can get a good look at the phenom.

Every once in a while, uninformed golfers don’t want to team up with the Lograssos, thinking Kyle will slow them down. Inevitably, by the end of the round, they’re asking him for advice on their swing.

Kyle Lograsso’s story has attracted attention from local and national media, including Golf Digest magazine and HBO’S “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” Companies from around the country have made Kyle Lograsso special personalized clubs, perfect for his short stature.

Regina Lograsso said the attention is a “little overwhelming,” for the family, which recently moved to Telford. But Kyle takes it in stride.

“He’s a ham,” she said. “You would think being as young as he is he would be shy, but he has a real confidence when he gets on the golf course,” his mother said.

Asked what he loves most about golf, Kyle Lograsso simply answers “putting.” He also likes to hunt for stray golf balls and has about 150 in his collection.

Cancer-free for 2 1/2 years, Kyle Lograsso gets checkups every six months because of the high reoccurrence of malignant tumors.

Last month, Kyle Lograsso took part in “Take a Club to Cancer,” a golf tournament in Georgia benefiting the American Cancer Society. Later this month, he’ll participate in a U.S. Kids Golf World Championship Qualifier at the Wyncote Golf Course in Oxford, Chester County.

When he’s not on the course, Kyle Lograsso can be found doing typical 5-year-old things, like bothering his older sisters and playing video games. Of course, it’s usually a Tiger Woods’ game loaded in the console.

Kyle Lograsso dreams of following in his idol’s footsteps as a professional golfer. His parents recognize his talent and encourage his desire but also want him to enjoy just being a kid.

“We just want (golf) to be fun for him. He does have a gift from God,” Jeff Lograsso said, “but he’s still 5.”

Praying for the Lograsso family. May they be blessed with many more years of Kyle – cancer free.  

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3 Responses to Beating Death — Twice

  1. It is heartwarming stories like this that put that impacted tooth in proper perspective. 🙂

    Cheers

  2. Lisa says:

    We were stationed in Iwakuni with the Lograssos. They are a wonderful family and a true inspiration to all! We love and miss them!!

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