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Arizona golfer inspiring others through the game of golf

Veteran and disabled golfer Larry Celano is set to compete in the inaugural U.S. Adaptive Open Championship

PHOENIX — "Win, lose or draw I want to go there and have three consistent rounds,” golfer Larry Celano said. “If they're not good enough to win, they're not good enough to win, but I will be happy with myself because I already won."

Although it took a long time, decades in fact, for Celano to find himself in this position. A position of gratitude, despite his limitations suffered years ago.

"Since my injury, I've been waiting for something to get my competitive juices going,” Celano said. “The last three years have been great but this is the cherry on top of it."

At just 19 years old, Celano was shot and partially paralyzed during the US Invasion of Panama back on December 22, 1989. At that moment, his life was forever changed.

"It started sinking in that my days of walking were over,” Celano said. “I just sat there and I just cried about never going to be able to walk again. I don't know what I was going to do and I was scared. I had a big support system, and if you don't have a support system, I don't know how I would've made it through."

Day by day, Celano picked up the pieces as he faced the reality of what his new life entailed.

"Once that bullet gets you,” Celano said. “It's life-changing for sure but it's how you react to it."

And react he did. Celano pursued the game of golf and that’s when everything started to slowly change. The process included a large range of trial and error, but with the help of his trainer, his game continued to improve.

“I know my swing looks awkward and funny and horrible, but it's effective," Celano said. "I started working harder, I got a trainer, I got a coach, I workout, I am out here practicing three to four hours a day."

The hard work paid off as Celano competed at a high level eventually winning his first tournament in the Veteran’s Golf Association. Now, he has his eyes set on the grand prize in the U.S. Adaptive Open Championship in Pinehurst.

"33 years ago, I defended the country,” Celano said. “Now in July, I am going to play for the National Championship. these are tears are joy, but it's been a long time coming and it's here."

While his passion lies within the game of golf, Celano also recognizes the impact his story has off the course.

“We're just going out there to show other people that you can do it and give you hope and inspiration to get off your butt, and go out there and do what you love to do."

If you would like to donate to his upcoming trip, click here.

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