Sophie Gustafson has won five tournaments on the LPGA Tour and eight times more on the Ladies European Tour, and in 2012, she was honored with the Ben Hogan Award for a person in golf who has overcome adversity.
Gustafson has a stutter, and though she once hated the idea of public speaking, she does so now with humor and grace. And as reported by Golf Digest last month, Gustafson has been giving back, helping mentor a boy who also has a severe stutter who had tried to take his life because of the bullying he had received.
After Gustafson told her story to Golf Digest‘s Ron Sirak, he wrote a blog entry about it on April 30, and almost immediately, Tiger Woods decided to get involved and sent the boy named Dillon a letter of support and encouragement.
Seriously, how cool a gesture is that by Woods? The answer: very cool.
As Gustafson told Sirak, “It was real class to get that out so fast.”
Right, especially since we now know how serious the boy’s pain had been. Here’s an email the boy’s mother sent to Gustafson:
On the week of April 16th, he had a bad week, he had been teased about his stuttering. That evening, he attempted suicide. He yelled downstairs ‘Good bye, I love you.’ Me and my husband immediately ran upstairs, his bedroom door was locked, we busted down the door and he was sitting on the window and was getting ready to jump. We were able to grab him and keep him from going head first onto the concrete below …
It breaks my heart that he is so lonely and continues to get teased about his stuttering. I am writing to ask you, do you have anyone that could help us share his story and help us find something to encourage him and help him see that he has a positive future?
That’s when Sirak wrote his post, and soon after, Woods either read or was informed of the story, inspiring him to send the letter. This is what Dillon wrote to Gustafson after receiving Woods’ correspondence.
I really appreciate all the support and help you are giving me. My mom and I saw all the support on twitter. I know that I have a lot of support thru this challenging time. I just want to fit in. I just want to find true friends who will accept me and not make fun of me when I talk. It gets so frustrating when you have things to say and people just don’t give you a chance to get it out. …
We are going to frame the letter. We have never seen a golf tournament in person, only on TV. I told my mom that when my leg gets better (he fractured his leg in his suicide attempt) I think that would be a fun thing to do … I hope that maybe one other person out there that is also having struggles, will hear my story and realize suicide is not the answer and maybe it can help them. I just acted on impulse and now wish that I hadn’t. I was just tired of feeling small and like I didn’t matter. I know that I do matter with the help of my family and friends like you to support me.”
Applause all the way around.
Photo via Keith Allison/Flickr (CC by-SA 2.0)