Sawgrass Clubhouse Hosting Autism Charity Gala, Golf

By Brandenburg, Susan D. | The Florida Times Union, June 16, 2007 | Go to article overview

Sawgrass Clubhouse Hosting Autism Charity Gala, Golf


Brandenburg, Susan D., The Florida Times Union


Byline: SUSAN D. BRANDENBURG

At age 2, Lanier Weed of Ponte Vedra Beach had autism diagnosed. Today, at age 9, she is recovering.

"We've learned that autism is not a life sentence," said Lanier's mother, Leslie Weed, wife of golf course architect Bobby Weed.

During the past seven years, Leslie Weed has searched relentlessly for answers to her daughter's illness, traveling to autism conferences and workshops across the country, dreaming of discovering the key to recovery for her little girl.

But it wasn't until three years ago, when she began taking Lanier to physician Julie Buckley of Pediatric Partners of Ponte Vedra Beach, that Leslie Weed's dreams turned into achievable goals.

One of approximately 20 physicians in the United States employing a battery of traditional and nontraditional techniques in treating autism, Buckley developed an "involuntary interest" in the disease five years ago, when her daughter, Danielle, regressed at age 4 and had autism diagnosed.

"Dani had been physically ill, but we didn't lose her mind until she was 4," said Buckley. "I couldn't accept that my little princess had a condition that was nontreatable."

Her daughter's diagnosis put Buckley on a new path as a pediatrician that took her far from the traditional mainstream, but today Danielle "Dani" Buckley attends regular classes at Ocean Palms Elementary School and has been identified as gifted.

"Autism is not a life sentence," said Leslie Weed. "We're working toward Lanier's recovery and we want other parents to know it's possible." In 2004, Leslie and Bobby Weed co-founded, with Julie Buckley, a nonprofit foundation called Healing Every Autistic Life.

On Thursday and Friday, June 28 and 29, the PGA Tour's TPC Sawgrass will sponsor "Valley of Dreams," the first HEAL gala and charity golf tournament. Hosted by actress and model Jenny McCarthy, who is also the author of the book Louder than Words, A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism, the gala and auction on Thursday evening, June 28, will be in TPC Sawgrass' new Mediterranean Revival style clubhouse. The first Bobby Weed/Pete Dye Charity Classic golf tournament will take place on the newly renovated Dye's Valley Course on Friday, June 29.

"Pete and Alice Dye, Jerry Pate and so many of us who are close to Bobby and Leslie Weed have been incredibly moved by their tireless efforts on behalf of Lanier," said David Pillsbury, president of PGA Tour Golf Course Properties. "HEAL is a grass-roots organization that fits perfectly with the PGA Tour's dedication to making a difference."

PGA Tour recently launched a program, Adopt a Charity, in which each of their international network of 21 TPC clubs targets a specific local charity. …

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