This is the final installment in a four-part series called Leadership Links: My Story. The series consisted of blogs written by AJGA juniors who are members of the Leadership Links Program. These posts highlight some of the more than 300 juniors who give back to their communities and what motivates them to be involved in the program.
Haydyn Gibson, Class of 2016, Clearwater, Florida
Haydyn has played in AJGA events since 2013. She has played in a total of four AJGA events with her best finish coming at the 2013 Preseason Junior at Innisbrook where she came in eighth place. Visit Haydyn's Leadership Links page.
I am involved with the Dean Hedstrom Foundation because it raises money for sun shades to help keep golfers out of the sun when they are practicing. Kris Hedstrom, who runs the foundation, lost her husband Dean to cancer. Dean was a golf pro at Belleair Country Club, which is my course. I met Kris at the club about three years ago, and since then we have become good friends. I like having a personal connection to my charity.
Since golfers are in the sun so much, it is very important that they are aware of the dangers. The Dean Hedstrom Foundation provides education and free cancer screenings to golfers. I hope I can spread the word to junior golfers to begin using sunblock at an early age.
Every year, I play in a golf tournament in Dean's honor which has helped me meet a lot of new people. My team came in second last year and they have asked me to play with them again this year.
We are lucky we are able play golf, but there is so much more to life. I am thankful I can use my passion to promote a message that might save someone's life. Last year, I raised about $300 for the charity and I presented the check at their board meeting. I felt honored that I was able to give back.
Taylor Loeb, Class of 2016, Maumelle, Arkansas
Taylor played in her first AJGA tournament at the 2014 Preseason Junior at Brookhaven where she came in ninth place. Visit Taylor's Leadership Links page
I chose The First Tee of Central Arkansas as one of my charities because of the core values it teaches. These core values are: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment. I was introduced to these values and The First Tee at the age of seven, when I entered my first tournament. I quickly realized these values not only make a difference on the golf course, but in all aspects of life. As I have grown older, I have been blessed to have many opportunities in golf and beyond. I believe having these values instilled in me at such an early age made a huge impact on my life. I truly live by these values in school, and with my friends and family.
I also chose the Arkansas chapter of the American Heart Association because of my grandfather. He had a cardiac scare when I was eight years old. I remember visiting him in the hospital and how worried my family was. It was a wakeup call for him, and he made some drastic changes in his lifestyle in order to become a healthier person. I was recently selected to participate in the “Sweetheart” program for my local chapter. The “Sweetheart” program is a volunteer initiative for high school sophomores. We were able to tour hospitals, become CPR certified and learn about heart disease and how to prevent it.
I really believe in both of these charities and am grateful for all they have brought to my life. I hope my donations will go to help young kids grow in the game of golf and to raise awareness for heart disease.