Survivors unite for charity golf day
RITA Alsemgeest is a breast cancer survivor and has made sure to play in every Gayndah golf charity day she has been available for.
"I was diagnosed with breast cancer a little while ago,” Alsemgeest said.
She can still clearly remember where she was on the day she got the life-changing news.
"I was actually on the golf course when I got the phone call from the doctor telling me I had to come in for more scans,” Alsemgeest said.
She was shocked by the news from her doctor but fought hard to beat the breast cancer diagnosis.
"It was five years ago when I finally overcame it - the doctor looked at my scans and cleared me,” Alsemgeest said.
Since that time, she has been a regular member of the Gayndah Golf Club and credits the game for everything it has done for her.
"Golf is very important to me. People support me beautifully down here and the support I get at the Tuesday and Thursday games from all the other players is just great,” Alsemgeest said.
"All of that, plus getting out and playing is good for health. I had to sell my buggy with the pink lady on it recently but I think I will be getting a new one soon.”
The community built up around the members of the Gayndah Golf Club helps Rita be an active part of the community she loves.
"I have kids living down in Brisbane but I prefer to stay here, mainly because I enjoy the lifestyle so much and have such good friends here,” Alsemgeest said.
That community of golfers has fortified their support of Alsemgeest even more in recent weeks.
Sadly, Alsemgeest suffered a devastating loss recently that reinforced her desire to raise money to help the fight against cancer.
"My husband passed away of cancer 12 weeks ago, which has been hard,” Alsemgeest said.
But she said it was still good to be able to get out for the charity day and continue her support for cancer research after the sad loss.
"It's a fundraising day and I think it is a good thing that it raises money for research, which means things are changing all the time,” Alsemgeest said.
"Even from the days I was doing my radiotherapy, things have changed and are done differently now.”
Alsemgeest was forced to sell her golf buggy when her husband was sick, however the golf club was able to help her stay active on the golf course.
The Gayndah Golf Club Charity Day has become an annual staple for the club and many of its players have had to endure the pain of cancer in one way or another.
That shared loss and pain brings these players together each year for the Pink and Blue Day to raise funds for the fight against cancer and disease.
"Everyone here today has really looked after me and I appreciate that a lot,” Alsemgeest said.
"Because I sold my buggy, they have supplied me with a buggy today, which was really nice of them.”
Despite all of this, Alsemgeest still has the time and good nature to highlight other people she knows who have been impacted by cancer.
"Regan is the one that should be spoken too - her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer just before I was,” Alsemgeest said.
As a result, Regan Clibborn is considered the driving force behind the foundation of the golf charity day after she felt the need to do something positive in response.
"I was the organiser of the event for six years before my daughter Jasie was born,” Clibborn said.
"I haven't done that for four years now because it has become a lot harder for me to organise the golf day with Jasie, but I always try and get out here to support whoever has put on the event.”
Clibborn's mother also fought off her cancer and is healthy and happy.
"She has recovered. Mum was diagnosed and so was my husband Scott's grandmother, so it runs in both sides of the family and that's when I decided to do something about it,” Clibborn said.
The community stood up and showed Clibborn their support.
"We had a big response in the first few years that I organised it. At one point I think the most players we had playing was around 120,” she said.
"Which was probably too many for the golf club to handle, but things got quieter, which made it a lot easier for the club and the players.”
Clibborn's daughter Jasie and husband Scott also took part in the day.
"I hope Jasie wants to pick up a golf club and starts to do something,” Clibborn said.
"It's good to be out here with the family.”
Clibborn didn't realise how quickly life could change with one diagnosis and still remembers hearing the news.
"It was a shock, the unknown. It was upsetting and just a lot of different feelings,” Clibborn said.
"I guess I didn't really think that it would affect my family until it actually did, which gave me some more awareness about it and made me want to do this even more.”
Clibborn's mother has been cancer-free for six years now, however caution remains a constant in all of their lives.
"Once you get to that point you are pretty well set to sail, but there is always a chance it could still come back,” Clibborn said.
Gayndah Golf Club secretary Michael Coulsen and his sister Leigh Cooper have also endured the impacts of cancer on their family.
"This is about my fifth time here doing this today. I come here due to losing both of my parents to cancer,” Cooper said.
"That was five years ago now.”
Cooper and Coulsen both recognise the importance of charity days.
"Most definitely losing our parents is a driving force for me,” Coulsen said.
"It makes you realise that anyone can be touched by these types of things.”
Cooper and Coulsen lost their mother to pancreatic cancer and their father to Parkinson's disease.
Once again showing the character of the club members, Coulsen was quick to make mention of Rita Alsemgeest.
"Rita is out here on the course playing today and she is a living testament that days like these can and do help,” Coulsen said.
Both the siblings have become avid fundraisers and plan to continue that support well into the future.
"It's great to see all the support the day gets and it does make a difference every day,” Coulsen said.
"The money we raise supports or changes the ways that they research and treat these things.”
Cooper has been involved in five of the charity golf days at Gayndah. Each time she enjoys being able to play alongside her brother.
"Being a small town, things like this have a heavy impact. It is a good thing to be able to come back and help raise money for a good cause,” Cooper said.
"I am absolutely both pink- and blue-minded when it comes to days like these.”
Club representative Di Baker took part in the charity day and partnered up with Alsemgeest.
Baker said she was always impressed by the support shown from the community of golfers and non-golfers.
"They have done very well today. We are happy with the turnout,” Baker said.
"A fairly good field of players have turned up. Regan is our original organiser and she is here too.”
Baker has played in all the charity days and has seen through the years how they have a positive effect even beyond the fundraising.
"The golf day is a good social day and we are thrilled as a club to see it going so strong,” Baker said.
"It encourages non-golfers to play and know that they will have a bit of fun and a good laugh without all the added pressure.”
The Gayndah golf players have built up a strong community.
"All of the teams get on really well together, which I think is great,” Baker said.
"Rita has been hitting the balls really well today, which is nice to see.”
Thirty-seven players took part in the Pink and Blue Charity Golf Day, many of them club members.
Whether you play golf or not, you can still make donations to help support the fight against cancer.
GAYNDAH GOLF RESULTS
1st: John Morgan 68. 2nd: Lindsay Baker 70.
1st: Greg Zahl. Equal 2nd: John Morgan 32 and Reg Brown 32.
Saturday Pink and Blue Charity Day
1st: Steve Jameson, Tom Jameson, Josh Robinson. 2nd: Sally Jolly, Jim Edwards, Craig Swift. 3rd: Greg Zahl, David Zahl, Jeremy Zahl. 4th: Reg Brown, Darren McCosker, Allen Cooper.
1st: Trevor Worland, Mick Coulson, Leigh Cooper. 2nd: Regan Clibborn, Scotty Clibborn, Shaun Allen. 3rd: Di Baker, Rita Alsemgeest, Steve Gallagher.