When Alex Fourie arrived in America at the age of seven, he weighed 34 12 pounds.
“The only thing we really ate was soup,” Fourie explained, “and eating soup with a hole in your mouth is pretty difficult.”
Fourie, 27, spent his first seven years of life in Ukrainian orphanages and believes his cleft lip and palate were caused by his birth near Chernobyl, the world’s worst nuclear accident. Fourie was born with only one arm as well.
Fourie was adopted by South African missionaries serving in Alabama, and he picked up a golf club just days after arriving at his new home. Now, the PGA teaching pro is utilizing his golf connections to help the orphanage that saved his life so many years ago.
Fourie, who grew up in Cherkasy, stated, “My friends are sending me videos of my hamlet and town being attacked.”
Fourie’s previous orphanage still has 175 children, and with the Russian military shelling hospitals, schools, and children’s homes, he couldn’t just sit back and watch from the safety of his Tennessee home.
He replied, “I was ready to walk over there and be honest.” “I was looking at airfares,” says the narrator.
Instead, the new father decided to raise money for his charity, Single Hand Golf, by selling T-shirts, with all earnings going to Hope Now, the missionary group that matched him with a family all those years ago.
The youngsters’ two- to three-day journey to safety on the Romanian border costs around $1,000 in petrol charges. Fourie donated $3,000 to Hope Now on Monday. Servers for both the Hope Now and T-shirt websites failed when he appeared on “Fox & Friends” Saturday morning to share his tale.
Vic Jackopson, the creator of Hope Now, first saw 2-year-old Fourie in a newborn orphanage.
“For me, his heart was broken,” Fourie added.
Five months later, Jackopson returned to the orphanage to adopt him, only to discover that the small boy had been moved to an orphanage with older children, with no documentation trail and no name to connect them.
Fourie couldn’t be adopted out of Ukraine beyond the age of seven since he was diagnosed with mental problems.
In 1999, an orphanage director contacted Jackopson and informed him of a young kid in desperate need of adoption. That weekend, Jackopson was in Birmingham, Alabama, visiting a pastor friend’s church. Elizabeth and Anton Fourie learnt on Saturday that yet another reproductive procedure had failed. Their acquaintance Jackopson told them about a youngster in Ukraine who needed a family the next day.
Alex explained, “It was a church-wide, community understanding that I would be their child.” “They all said, ‘Go get your kid!'” says the narrator.
Fourie initially met his parents on Mother’s Day in 1999, and he was adopted one month before his seventh birthday. A senator from Alabama aided in the expediting of the papers. He gets goosebumps when he thinks about how close he was to being forced to stay in Ukraine — alone and without the medical care he needed.
Passing the examination
Fourie got a PGA member last year after passing the Player Ability Test with a few shots to spare in Cleveland, Tennessee. After the head pro bailed him out for wearing shorts, he did it in rain pants on a hot summer day.
Fourie used to work as an assistant pro at a par-3 course in Knoxville, but now works for Litespeed Construction, selling roofs and teaching golf lessons on the side.
He laughed and replied, “I get on roofs for a living.” “I’m underappreciated.”
The roofing work allows him to participate in competitions more frequently. Fourie is already one of the best disabled golfers in the country, with a handicap index of 0.6. He won the first competition he entered in the North American One-Armed Golfer Association, and he’s “very thrilled” about the USGA’s new U.S. Adaptive Open, which will be held this summer on Pinehurst No. 6. There will be 96 players on the pitch.
Fourie’s passion for teaching is “seeing others fall in love with the game of golf.”
Cyndee Knight, the president of Hope Now, is aware of the statistics for children who are not adopted from Ukraine’s orphanages. Thirty percent of those who attempt suicide do so, and more than twice as many will have a criminal record. Hope Now supports small group homes for teens who have aged out of orphanages, as well as medical and basic needs programs.
In the midst of the conflict, some male orphans are now patrolling the cities at night as new troops of the Ukrainian Army, terrified and hungry. There’s a need everywhere Knight looks.
She has five vans that she uses to transport children and their government-appointed guardians to Romania. Diesel is expensive, and most old vans need to be repaired on a regular basis. Finding safe, local drivers willing to leave their homes and duties to transport orphans across perilous roads is tough. So far, 150 people have been relocated to safety, the most of whom are women and children.
“After this conflict, they’re expecting 100,000 additional orphans,” Fourie remarked.
It’s snowing in Cherkasy right now, which means that because bottled water is scarce, Ukrainians are forced to boil the snow. Fourie hasn’t visited Ukraine since leaving in 1999, but he’s already making preparations to assist in the reconstruction.
Regardless of the horrors that occurred there, Ukraine will always be Fourie’s home. He’ll always have a soft spot in his heart for her people, especially the weakest.
“To stay alive, we’re all fighters,” Fourie remarked. “Watching the Ukrainian people’s spirit battle for their land has filled me with pride and delight, knowing that I, too, have a small bit of their spirit.”
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