John LeMieux golfing at the Samoset in 2014

Five days before Christmas in 2012, John LeMieux had a 21-hour surgery to remove his left leg at the hip as a result of a re-occurrence of Liposarcoma. He laid in the hospital for six months before he could use a prosthetic leg.

Once he got his prosthetic leg, though, it didn’t take long for him to return to one of his happy places — the golf course.

He found almost instant success, and even recorded his first hole-in-one in September 2013 while playing the 17th hole at The Woodlands in Falmouth.

If he could find success, he thought, why not help out other amputees with similar passions?

First, he helped found the Amputee Association of Maine, of which he is the board president. The reason for creating the non-profit organization was to help centralize and discover information for amputees.

He also wanted to help amputees play one of the sports he loved — golf — and at a competitive level.

“I became aware of something called the Eastern Amputee Golf Association (EAGA),” LeMieux said. “They have tournaments up and down the East Coast and into the Midwest. So I always thought I would want to play in an amputee event. Last year I went and played in the Connecticut Open in Danbury, and it was a lot of fun.”

LeMieux had run golf tournaments in the past, and he wanted hold an EAGA event in Maine.

On Monday and Tuesday, he will be putting on the Maine Amputee Open Golf Championship, a 36-hole event at Falmouth Country Club.

The event isn’t a fundraiser — it’s a competitive tournament which includes mostly amputees and some able-bodied golfers.

“The tournament itself is actually two tournaments, because we have a tournament for our amputee golfers and we’ve got a tournament for our able-bodied golfers too, We have 20-something able-bodied golfers from around the state that’s going to play.” LeMieux said. “It’s a two-day, 36-hole stroke play event. It’s different than the usual scramble fundraiser event that people have.

“It’s a serious golf tournament. The idea is, you play your own ball and keep your own score. You might shoot an 85 one day and a 100 the next, but you shot it. That’s what the (EAGA) events are. They are real golf tournaments.”

A scramble tournament as a fundraiser for the Amputee Association of Maine is something they may consider in the future, but he hopes the Maine Amputee Open Golf Championship will be the association’s signature event.

In addition, with the help of Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation, the Amputee Association of Maine is hosting a free adaptive golf clinic at Freeport Country Club from 1-4 p.m. today.

“After I lost my leg, I volunteered with Maine Adaptive to help with their golf program,” LeMieux said. “I was able to go out and spend some time helping amputee golfers with their swing. Before I lost my leg, I helped with the ski program at Maine Adaptive so I am a big fan of Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation. They do a tremendous job.

“It was kind of natural for us to partner with them because we want to aware awareness, but for the disabled population where golf can be a tremendous activity to get out and get physical exercise, to get social interaction with other people. That was one of the first calls we made was to Barbara (Schneider) about holding a golf clinic in conjunction with (the tournament).”

Freeport and Falmouth — both owned by Harris Golf — were chosen because of their easy access for amputees.

LeMieux said it was an easy choice to hold the events in late July as they are expecting golfers from all over New England — including three from Maine — Pennsylvania and New York to compete as he wants everybody to enjoy what Maine has to offer during the summer.

Hopefully, LeMieux said, the success of this tournament and clinic will bring out more amputees to try golf, or rekindle the idea among others thought who they couldn’t play anymore.

“There are several in the state, I think there are fewer golfers in Maine involved in this tournament than I wanted to have,” LeMieux said. “I think that’s a question of us doing a better job of publicizing the fact the tournament is here and available to people.”

He hopes to have 10-15 in next year’s tournament.

For more information on the Amputee Association of Maine, you can visit their website at https://aaom39.wildapricot.org. Information regarding the Eastern Amputee Golf Association can be found at their website, http://www.eagagolf.org/index.html. The Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation website is https://www.maineadaptive.org/.

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John LeMieux

John LeMieux golfing at the Woodlands in 2014

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