By LOIS KINDLE
A fateful day in November 2014 dramatically changed Jared Ramella’s life when a car struck his motorcycle as he was on his way to his grandmother’s house to feed her cats. Paralyzed from the chest down due to a spinal cord injury, the Ruskin resident has been undergoing expensive, specialized physical therapy ever since, and it’s not covered by insurance.
“We had to find ways to help pay for Jared’s rehabilitation,” said his sister, Amanda Marrero, owner of Fringe Benefits Salon. “Initially our family received a grant from the Tighten the Drag Foundation, so he could start physical therapy at the Center for Recovery & Exercise in Longwood. Then, to fund his ongoing treatment, I started an annual golf tournament.”
Round four of the Jared Ramella Road to Recovery Golf Tournament is set for April 28 at Summerfield Crossings Golf Course, 13050 Summerfield Blvd., Riverview. Registration and check in are at 11 a.m., followed by a shotgun start at noon.
“This year it’s not just about me,” said Ramella, 32. “We’re expanding (its purpose) to give others the same opportunities I’ve been given. I’m so excited and proud and grateful to be at a point where we’re able to return the favor (to the Tighten the Drag Foundation), which helped me.”
The foundation was started by Sheila Tramontana in October 2012, two months after her 30-year-old son broke his neck diving off a boat. The all-volunteer 501(c)3 organization helps those who have suffered traumatic spinal cord injuries by providing financial support for aggressive physical therapy, giving them hope by paying for adaptive activities and showing them what’s available for improving their quality of life, Tramontana said.
Marrero said the hope is that the tournament brings in enough funds to cover her brother’s physical therapy costs and provides a significant donation to the foundation.
Jared’s mother, Suzanne Ramella, said the tournament proceeds cover the transportation costs involved in taking him to Orlando every week, his actual therapy sessions and expenses incurred in the purchase of bandages, catheters, nutritional supplements, over-the-counter meds and anything else not covered by insurance.
“He had a rough year last year with two hospitalizations for an infected wound and reconstructive surgery,” she said. “He was in bed for seven months.”
Last year, the tournament brought in about $12,000, which Marrero said covered her brother’s uncovered medical expenses for the year.
The cost to participate in the tournament is $85 per person, which includes the greens fee, cart, lunch, beer and shooters on the course, dinner at the 19th hole party by Liborio’s Latin Café, a swag bag and a raffle and silent auction with items including vacation packages to Clearwater Beach and the Orlando area, fishing charters with Captains Phil Pegley, Matt Morrison and Lori Deaton; a $300 gift-card tree; two-night stay at Little Harbor; foursomes at several area different courses; beauty package from Fringe Benefits; Yeti coolers; Callaway golf bags; a $200 gift card tree; “dream” golf basket, including rounds of golf, lessons and accessories; in-home PRP wine tasting; and more.
There will also be contests for putting, the shot closest to the hole, longest drive and a game of blackjack on a specified hole.
Each player on the first-place team gets a nice trophy and $50 gift certificate to Circles Waterfront Restaurant.
Major sponsors include Capt. Matt Santiago; McRoberts Sales; agent Kerin Clarkin, of Keller Williams Realty; Maverick’s Portable Restrooms; and Fleming Tire.
“My brother has made progress over the past three years, but he’s had a couple of setbacks, which are common with spinal cord injuries. Despite his improvements, he still has a long way to go,” Marrero said. “That’s why it’s important for me to give him the opportunity to continue his progress.”
Ramella understands her sacrifice.
“I am so grateful to Amanda, the Summerfield Crossings Golf Course and everyone involved,” he said. “I can’t wait to get out there (with a ParaGolfer) and play!”
To register for the golf tournament, visit golf.eventzilla.net or call 813-967-5811.
IF YOU GO
What: Road to Recovery Golf Tournament
Where: Summerfield Crossings Golf Course, 13050 Summerfield Blvd., Riverview
When: April 28, shotgun start at noon
Cost: $85, includes the greens fee; cart; lunch, shooters and beer on the course; dinner at the 19th hole; swag bags; raffle; silent auction; and more.
Information: Call 813-967-5811.