U.S. Navy Seaman Luis Estrada, 29, thought his biggest battles would occur overseas, but he ended up fighting the ultimate battle to save his life here in San Diego. Estrada contracted Guillain-Barrè syndrome (GBS), a rare disorder that can be life-threatening. With GBS, the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system, which in Estrada’s case, left him almost paralyzed. He has since been slowly recovering.
On Thursday, Sept. 22, 2010, Estrada will pick up a golf club and team with his father and a retired U.S. Navy Admiral, among others for Alvarado Hospital/American Heart Association’s SoCal Rehab Golf Classic to raise awareness for golf as a therapeutic activity. This unique tournament – which is the only one of its kind in San Diego – pairs physically challenged golfers with able-bodied players for nine holes on Sept. 22 at 3 p.m. at Riverwalk Golf Club in Fashion Valley. The purpose of the tournament, which is in its eighth year, is to increase awareness of using golf as a therapeutic activity for those who have suffered from a traumatic brain injury, stroke or other impairment, and to provide individuals in adaptive golf programs an opportunity to play in a competitive-setting tournament format.
The tournament, which includes an adaptive golf academy for those who want to learn how play golf, will be lead by John Klein, PGA Golf Professional, who has more than 30 years of experience teaching golf to individuals with disabilities. In addition to his affiliation with the Alvarado Hospital Restorative Golf Club, Klein conducts multiple other special-needs golf programs in San Diego County, including the "Wounded Warrior Golf Program" for military personnel.
“I have the will power and the strength to pull through this experience and return to the active life I led before,” Estrada said.
He came to San Diego earlier this year as part of his naval training and was on his way to be stationed in Washington when he contracted GBS. There is no known cause of the disorder and no definitive way to treat it. For the past six months, Estrada has been an inpatient at Alvarado Hospital’s rehabilitation institute, and has been working tirelessly with physical therapists to build his strength and ability to return to independence and active duty with the U.S. Navy.