CUMBERLAND, Maine — In life, we can face unexpected challenges. Those events can shape our lives for the worse or the better.
Sometimes it takes a big loss to get the greatest gain. That's what one group of friends will tell you at Val Halla Golf & Recreation Center in Cumberland.
There's a lot to learn on a golf course. Like patience, skill, and perseverance. And that perseverance is what brought one group out there in the first place.
Turns out, they all ended up on a different path than expected.
"I lost my leg to cancer in December of 2012."
He lost a limb, yet John LeMieux felt compelled to give.
"After losing my leg and meeting some other amputees, we realized there's not a lot of formal support."
So, through his newfound role as Board President of the Amputee Association of Maine, he started a golf tournament.
Twenty golfers from nine different states all compete in Cumberland.
"What we're trying to do is provide a space for education and support throughout the state of Maine," said LeMieux.
But already in its three-year run, this outing has provided so much more.
"This is something that really helps a lot," said Bill Lippincott, another golfer.
"We learn a lot about prosthetics at the same time. Because everyone has a different prosthetist, a different leg, a different arm and it helps people who haven't had exposure to people without limbs," said Bob Dean.
"I think for newer amputees it's helpful for them to talk to someone with experience," added Scott Harrington.
Some were lifelong golfers before they lost a leg. Others picked up the sport as a way to keep moving forward.
No matter who you ask in this tournament they'll tell you, the only handicap they see is the one on their scorecard.
"Somebody asked me once, do I ever wish I could get my leg back? And I said 'well sure,'" said LeMieux. "But if I had to give up everything I've learned about myself to get my leg back, it's not an even trade."