Crutch-alternative means not having to sit on the sidelines
A hands-free device is helping a young Manitoba golfer get back on the links after surgery for a rare tumour.
Drake Gessell told CTV News if he could, he would golf everyday.
“If there’s no tournament going on or if we’re not gone somewhere else,” Gessell said.
But this season almost ended before it started. Last August, the 14-year-old found out he had a rare tumour in his right foot.
“It is pseudomyogenic hemangioendothelioma,” he explained to CTV News.
Doctors in Vancouver removed it in April - meaning Gessell wore a cast and crutches all summer long.
His mother said it was a tough adjustment.
“Coming out of surgery the first comment he made was, ‘Will I be able to golf?’” said Melanie Gessell.
Determined to keep swinging, Drake got creative.
“I was kind of thinking I could learn to golf on one foot, but then I realized that if I put my knee on a pail, it was just the right height to start swinging and hitting golf balls again," he said.
His mother thought he may be on to something.
“So I felt like if he could be hands free then this just might be the trick that works for him,” she said.
The trick came in the form of the iWalkfree 2.0 -- a hands free mobility device designed for lower leg injuries.
It was invented by a Canadian farmer with a broken ankle, said the CEO of the company that makes it.
“He was shaving and he would kneel on a stool and it occurred to him how much better that worked than crutches,” said Brad Hunter from Long Beach, Cali.
Hunter says the iWalk allows people to keep their motor skills during recovery -- while staying off their injured foot.
“The research that we are doing right now is proving that there is higher compliance, there’s much better quality of care,” Hunter said.
The same week Drake first put his on -- a club was back in his hands.
“I am actually out on the golf course now and playing really well. Better than last year actually,” he said.
In July -- he and his brother decided to play at the Portage Golf Club for fun.
“Just decided we’d hit the ball and hoped to get on the green at least.”
An the seventh hole -- a par three -- Drake drained a hole in one.
“Just pulling it out and taking a picture with that, that’s a memory that’ll stay with me forever.”
He won’t need the crutch for much longer — but Drake says he’ll keep playing with it until his foot is at full strength.
Playing with two feet again will be the next challenge - now that he’s hit an ace with one.
"Every time I come to a par three - I know that it could happen.”