As the saying goes, “friends are the family you choose”. At the annual Join The Turn Outing, nothing could be more true or apparent.
As the members come out for a day of golf, food, fun and comradery, it is clear that this organization is more than just people who golf together, it is a family.
“I view The Turn as so much more than just a program or an activity,” Program Director Trevor Hazen said. “I see The Turn as a community that helps all those involved and provides a support system. There is no doubt that The Turn community is like one big family that cares about each other.”
Hazen has seen The Turn grow since its inception as has carried on the vision of founder Bob Wharton, while also using his own ideas to grow the program.
It’s incredible to look back and realize I have been fortunate enough to enjoy this day 16 times! I think about the first ever outing we did where it was a couple dozen people on the back patio and to see how much it has grown really is amazing. The Turn staff, volunteers, members, friends, family and supporters all talk about how much they enjoy the Join The Turn Outing and the numbers certainly show this to be true.
One of the main announcements at the Join The Turn Outing is the naming of the Player of the Year. The 2021 Player of the Year is Ken Shawver. Shawver is a devoted Turn member who makes a mission of helping others.
“It’s a great honor and a great feeling,” Ken said. “It’s awesome to be participating in the program so long and accomplish so much and to be able to help other people. It was a win-win situation for me. I just don’t know what to say.
“It means a lot,” Ken said about the honor. “When I got hurt, I was told I would never walk again. The hospital gave me a wheelchair and told me that was what my life was going to be. And my wife and family weren’t going to have that.
“We worked at it and it took a while, it took a couple of years to learn how to walk and I have had 18 years of walking.”
For Ken, he embodies the idea that The Turn is a family, not just singular members.
“The Turn program opened a lot of doors,” Ken said. “I have got to socialize with people I wouldn’t have socialized with and has the opportunity to golf regularly and learned how to golf a new way that was different than the way I learned before my accident.
“The staff and the volunteers here are actually incredible people so when you surround yourself with that environment, you can’t be anything but a better person.
“I have enjoyed everyone I have been too and I have been to everyone since I started the program. I guess the most amazing thing is of you see the number of people that volunteer to make this work and how it works and how smooth it runs, it is just an incredible experience. It’s something that not everyone has the opportunity to be a part of.”
2020 Player of the Year Elaine Wolan shared similar sentiments.
“Just in general I think this is one of the most remarkable organizations I have ever been a part of,” Wolan said. “It’s everybody. It’s the staff, the members, the volunteers. I feel everybody is friends now. I have been involved since 2013 and this is a part of my life now. I love being with everybody and the work they have us do to stay string and vital and it’s just an awesome organization.”
Wolan had a pretty emotional reunion this year at the outing.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” Wolan said. “This year, I haven’t seen my family in almost a year and a half so they are here and my friends from Michigan are here and I haven’t seen them in a year and a half so it just a lot of fun. It is always a lot of fun.”
Wolan added “It is something that I will participate in every year.”
The Join The Turn Outing cannot be done without the countless number of incredible and dedicated volunteers. One of those is State Farm agent Sean Jelinek, who makes sure to circle this day on his calendar every year.
“I opened up my business back in 2016 and was trying to find a way become part of the community and help get my name out there a little bit,” Jelinek said. “I was friends with Trevor in high school and knew he was a part of the Turn.
“I didn’t know a lot about it but I knew I wanted to a part of something in the community and just feel in love with the family atmosphere,” Jelinek added. “The guys welcomed me as a family member here. I do anything I can make it out too. The baseball games, this, the Night at the Races. Just became part of the family.”
“It keeps growing and they see how the members actually benefit from it,” Jelinek said about The Turn. “It’s just not another charitable organization that money is going into the chairman’s pockets, its actually going into the program. The ease of life that The Turn provides. You can see everyone is happy here. They might have a disability and learning path change but everyone is always in high spirits out here. It’s like a sanctuary for them and it has been for me as well.”
For Hazen, it is easy to look ahead and try to think about the future but living in the present and appreciating what the Join The Turn Outing has become is just as important.
“Perfect weather for every future Join The Turn Outing is what I hope for the most,” Hazen said about future outings. “All kidding aside, I hope the JTTO continues to grow and once it maxes out, maybe some type of multi-day event would be an option down the road. You never know, just like we experience every day at The Turn, anything is possible!”