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rian McColl
loves to play golf.
On average, he golfs four times
per week. Not an easy feat when
you have muscular dystrophy. “I use
two canes to get up to the tee box,” says
Brian. “Someone passes me my golf
club, I hit the ball, and then use my two
canes to get back down to the cart.”
Recently, Brian wrote a letter to the
manager and board of directors at Six
Lakes Country Club, his winter home in
North Fort Myers, Florida. He asked for
permission to ride his golf cart up to the
teeing ground. Permission was granted
and, from now on, Brian won’t have to
wobble up to the tee box anymore. Just
another victory for the man who refuses
to let his progressive illness get in the
way of having fun and enjoying his
snowbird years to the fullest.
For the past 12 years, Brian and his wife
Dianne have been travelling to Florida.
For the past six years, they’ve had to
make some modifications to their win-
ter routine. After being diagnosed with
muscular dystrophy in 2006, Brian real-
ized that he would not have the same
mobility as before. Inevitably, some
changes had to take place. “My legs felt
really tired after playing golf,” he recalls.
“My doctor told me to live with it, that
there is no medication to treat muscular
dystrophy and that I should just try to
be as active as possible, which is diffi-
cult when you can’t really walk.” Because
of the progressive nature of his illness,
Brian notices that each year, he has less
mobility. “I get about 10 per cent worse
every year,” he comments. He relies
heavily on his walker and his scooter; he
uses them interchangeably depending
on where he is. “I mostly use my walker
in the house,” he explains. “If we go
out anywhere in the car, I take both
my walker and my scooter. For lengthy
outings, I’ll use my scooter.”Having a
scooter comes in quite handy when
Brian and Dianne visit the Fleamasters
Fleamarket in Fort Myers. With his
scooter puttering around at 4 ½ miles
per hour, Brian covers more ground on
wheels than Dianne does walking!
The drive to and from Florida has also
changed, with Dianne now responsible
for two-thirds of the driving. “She enjoys
it,” comments Brian. “Dianne used to
race Corvettes back in the 60s. She puts
the pedal to the metal!” For overnight
stopovers, Brian and Dianne always ask
for a handicap room, which enables
them to remain on the ground floor
with close proximity to an exit. Brian
also invested in some removable grab
bars, which allow him to easily maneu-
ver himself in the bathroom and while
using the stairs.
The kindness and support of others
has had a profound effect on Brian’s
ability to remain active. “Everyone is
friendly and always willing to help out,”
says Brian. “My golfing buddies look
after me, too.”Case in point: a disability
ramp became available in Brian’s Florida
community. The challenge was to move
the ramp from one location to another.
“I put the call out via e-mail to my fellow
golfers,” recalls Brian. “I did not know
the response I would get, but I was
hoping for the best.”At 2:00 p.m. that
afternoon, 15 of his pals showed up
with a pickup truck. Less than two hours
later, the ramp was in place and fully
functional. “A cool refreshment followed
and they were on their way, mission ac-
complished,” says Brian. “Six Lakes, what
a great place to have a winter home!”
When not out golfing or shopping (“I’m
always looking for a deal!” says Brian),
he keeps himself busy at the computer,
often preparing tickets and flyers for
park functions. He’s established himself
as the ‘Printer in the Park’ – the go-to
person for any printing requests.
Sooner or later, Brian’s mobility will
deteriorate to the point at which he can
no longer travel. “I’m not going to think
about that right now,” he comments. “I’ll
deal with it when the time comes.”He
and Dianne are looking forward to their
Carnival cruise this winter. The cruise
line has been very accommodating to
Brian’s unique needs, and he’s excited
for the vacation. “As long as I can
keep travelling, I will.”