NETHER PROVIDENCE — The first hole at The Springhaven Club measures 408 yards, one of the course’s longer par-4s. But it’s nothing to Jackson Debusschere, not compared to what 10 yards used to mean.
That was the daily goal two years ago as an eighth grader. What started as a suspected cold spiraled into much more in November 2016. Within a week of feeling under the weather, Debusschere was on life support at the cardiac ICU at Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, suffering from giant cell myocarditis, an autoimmune attack of his heart muscle that requires a heart transplant in 90 percent of cases.
When Debusschere beat the initial odds, of his heart improbably returning to health after weeks in the hospital, he was faced with the task of learning many physical tasks anew: How to feed himself, how to walk, the latter starting 10 yards at a time in the family’s driveway.
And through it all, there was an unlikely savior: Golf, a sport Debusschere had played only recreationally before his illness, subordinating the game to his main sports, hockey and soccer.
But cooped up at home for five months of convalescence, needing something to pass the time, he turned to the links. And it’s a decision that has paid countless dividends.
“When I picked up a golf club, I couldn’t put it down,” Debusschere said. “I really enjoyed it. And considering it was the only sport I could play, I really wanted to do something with it, because I’m a really competitive kid. I can’t go without sports in my life.”
“Playing golf has become his happy place,” Jackson’s mom, Kira said.
Jackson is spreading the happiness around. The sophomore is a leader on Strath Haven’s 8-0 squad, the latest installment a 201-223 win over Ridley Wednesday. The passion he’s found on the golf course is more than just a hobby. It’s become the new normal for he and his family.
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