'Walking' man to share his story of determination

'Walking' man to share his story of determination

DANVILLE – In 2008, D.J. Gregory did something few people have done – walk every hole of the PGA tour. That's 44 tournaments, 3,256 holes and 988 miles, which is like walking from New York's Midtown Manhattan to Daytona Beach, Fla.

Gregory's accomplishment is even more remarkable considering he has cerebral palsy.

"Here's a guy who could have very easily said, 'Woe is me,' and felt sorry for himself," said Bob Richard, the Danville Public School Foundation's executive director. "But D.J. never did that. He overcame adversity, set goals ... and now he's accomplished his dream."

The foundation is bringing the 30-year-old Savannah, Ga., resident to Danville to share his story with students and the public.

Gregory will speak at Danville High School on the morning of Sept. 14, and at both North Ridge and South View middle schools on Sept. 15. He will speak to members of the Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis and AMBUCS service clubs at a joint meeting at noon Sept. 14.

Then he will speak at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Turtle Run Banquet Center, 332 E. Liberty Lane, Danville. That event is free and open to the public.

Gregory also will sign copies of his book, "Walking with Friends." Blue Kangaroo will have books for sale at the service club meeting and the evening event.

In addition, people can purchase tickets for the foundation's raffle fundraiser. The foundation is raffling off a three-night trip for four to play golf at the famed Pebble Beach and Spy Glass golf courses.

Tickets are $100 apiece. The drawing is Oct. 17.

Richard met Gregory at the AMBUCS national convention in Nevada this summer.

Gregory was born 10 weeks premature with underdeveloped lungs. While in the neonatal intensive care unit, he was administered too much oxygen, which burst the capillaries in his brain controlling his lower extremities.

Doctors told his parents their son would never walk. They ignored that prognosis.

Gregory underwent five surgeries on his legs before he started school. He learned to walk with a walker, then two canes and then one.

Gregory, who holds a master's degree in sports management, loved sports, especially golf. He learned to play, using one hand to swing his clubs and the other to hold onto his cane.

While he could never play professionally, he set a goal of walking every hole in every tournament of the PGA tour. He blogged about the experience on the tour's Web site, and then in his book.

"His message is, don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something," said Richard, who hopes students are inspired. "If you have a dream, go for it, work hard, and never lose sight of it. That's what I want them to take away."

Cathy Reardon, president of the Danville Noon Rotary Club, said she's grateful that the foundation is giving all service club members a chance to come together and hear Gregory speak.

"We've never done this before," she said. "I think he has a very positive message ... of determination and spirit. It's important for not just children to hear, but also adults."

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