If I Were Brave
by David McNally
On April 25th, 2004, the premiere of my new film, If I Were Brave, was held at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. Over 300 people were in attendance. The evening and the celebration will go down as one of my most memorable experiences.
The story surrounding the production of If I Were Brave began in June of 2003 during a round of golf at Hazeltine with my good friends, Bill and Joan Slattery. They told me that in September of '03 Hazeltine would be hosting the National Amputee Golf Association (NAGA) Championship. Because Hazeltine is such a famous course, having hosted two US Opens and the 2002 PGA Championship, over 160 players representing nine countries were expected to participate.
I was intrigued - for I had never heard of NAGA. As many of you know, I had produced a film several years previously called - The Power of Purpose - about Terry Fox, a Canadian man, who lost a leg to cancer and went on to run the greatest marathon run ever. I immediately wondered whether a potential new film could be made about the participants in this championship.
Enquiries led me to a meeting with Patrice Cooper, a member of Hazeltine who had lost her right arm due to cancer. Pat's inspiring personal story and what she shared with me about other members of NAGA cemented my commitment to making this film. I knew from the outset that, although the game of golf might be the common denominator bringing these people together, the film would ultimately be about the transcendent power of the human spirit.
My vision for the film included the role of a fund raising vehicle for NAGA so that the organization could do further outreach. This meant the production budget had to be raised through donations so that the royalties from sales of the film could go directly to the association. With so many causes worthy of support I knew that this would be a risky way to go. Needless to say, If I Were Brave would not now exist unless several corporations and many individuals had provided their support.
There are times in life when one experiences a tremendous sense of privilege. Members of the production team, RumJungle Media, and I felt extremely fortunate to watch, meet and interview so many of the players the week of the NAGA championship. These were ordinary people with extraordinary attitudes who had chosen more than just to survive, they had chosen to thrive.
One by one they shared stories of how one moment they were leading normal lives and then suddenly they were facing a profound life-altering crisis. They revealed how they responded, how they were supported, and finally how they each made the courageous choice to move from focusing on their disability to the possibilities for their lives.
They charmed us with their attitudes, disarmed us with their humor and made our jaws drop with their golf skills. The word 'handicap' was clearly missing from their dictionary. Ultimately, however, their irrepressible determination to live full and meaningful lives is what truly inspired us.
If I Were Brave is not just for those with a physical disability. It helps each of us understand that we have the inherent power to transcend and triumph over any adversity that life may send our way. It teaches us that to thrive we must stop making excuses and start making commitments. From the remarkable people we meet in the film we learn that while the future may be uncertain it is also unlimited.
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Copyright David McNally. All Rights Reserved.
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