Kyle Lograsso Tees Off Against Retinoblastoma
Written By Cat Wagman
Viewed from the gallery, many spectators stand in amazement as they watch 11-year-old Kyle Lograsso confidently approach the tee. From the power of his swing to the ease of his follow through, Kyle sends the ball flying high and long, straight down the fairway. With his father, Jeff, as his caddy, Kyle strolls down the fairway to take his next shot, so he can put his ball even closer to the green and the waving flag marking the cup.
Kyle first fell in love with golf when he was just a toddler. He discovered the Golf Channel and started mimicking the professional golfers, using the remote as his golf club. Later, his parents got him child-sized, plastic golf clubs, so he could practice in earnest. Little did they know at that time, that Kyle was also experiencing a life-threatening medical condition called Bilateral Retinoblastoma, the most common form of eye cancer in children. By the time of his diagnosis at age two, the Retinoblastoma had already destroyed Kyle’s left eye to the point where it had to be removed; however, his right eye was saved through six months of chemotherapy. Through it all, the love and support from his mother, Regina, his father, Jeff, and his two older sisters, Kristen and Kaley, helped him heal and keep playing golf. To honor Kyle’s triumph over Retinoblastoma, his parents established the Through Kyle’s Eyes Foundation as a way to raise awareness about this deadly disease. And, with Kyle’s natural golfing ability, tournaments are a perfect way to raise research funds to find a cure while helping other families affected by Retinoblastoma.
Kyle was only 8 years old when he played his first TKE tournament on September 13, 2010, at Pauma Valley Country Club in Pauma Valley, California. Kyle was stationed at the third hole, so he could shoot the hole with each of the foursomes as they played through. About ten minutes into play, Tim Hughes, President and CEO of Movers Specialty Service, Inc. (MSS), a top TKE sponsor, arrived. Kyle knew Tim was a good golfer, because he had seen Tim shoot a hole-in-one in a previous tournament. Just as Kyle was about to tee off with his 5 iron, Tim asked, “Remember what I did the last time?” Kyle said, “Yes,” then proceeded to send his own ball flying straight and true down to the green where it continued to roll right into the cup! (124 yards, par 3) Since then, Kyle has played in more charity tournaments such as the LPGA Pro-Am in Palm Springs, California; and his reputation as a golf prodigy continues to get national attention.
On August 2012, Kyle played in the Mini British Open (VJGA) two-day tournament and placed first with a total score of 88. He also participated in the one-day TKE Fight Fore Sight 100 Hole Challenge and managed to play a total of 109 holes before he was done. Of the $90,000 that were raised, Kyle raised $70,000 through his own efforts, surpassing his personal goal of $50,000. “The 100-hole fundraiser was actually Kyle’s idea,” said Regina Lograsso, “and then when he got to 100 holes he just kept playing. He played 55 holes in bare feet. He had a few blisters and went to bed early that night.
But he’s already planning for next year.” Along with MSS, other major sponsors of the Through Kyle’s Eyes Foundation (www.kylelograsso.org) include: Ernie Ball Music Man (Sterling Ball, owner); Cleveland Golf (Rodney McDonald, VP of Tour Operations); LoudMouth Golf (Alan Wallace, VP of Sales); and Legends Golf Club (Tim Somerville, owner). With Kyle leading the way, it is through the generosity of these sponsors and other donors that have helped TKE raise just over $400,000. This money helps to fund ongoing Retinoblastoma research done by The Retinoblastoma Center of Houston and The Eye Tumor Research Foundation, as well as assist family support organizations such as Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Eye Foundation and Specs for Little Heroes (which purchases the expensive protective eyewear not usually covered by insurance). “It means so much when your child is a source of inspiration,” said Regina Lograsso, “and now, after such a busy summer and while his father, who is U.S. Marine, is away on assignment, Kyle is taking a break and focusing on his school work.” When asked what advice he would like everyone to remember, Kyle said, “keep praying, don’t give up, and fight even though it might be hard.”