Hope on the Horizons

Golf tournament to benefit service organization

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Look. Up in the sky. It's a bird. It's a plane, and it's dropping thousands of golf balls.

It's the annual Yahoo Golf Tournament and golf ball drop, which benefits a local nonprofit organization.

The group benefiting from this year's golf ball drop is Horizons Specialized Services, and Horizons officials are happy about being the chosen organization.

"It's great for us that the Yahoo tournament selected us," said Kay Borvansky, development coordinator for Horizons. "The money raised here in Moffat County will go toward our adult programs and services."

Horizons was formed out of a movement in the 1960s to get people with disabilities out of institutions and into more "home-like" environments, Borvansky said.

In the not-so-distant past, people with disabilities were sent to state hospitals and institutions to spend their lives in obscurity.

Borvansky said a better way to treat people has been found and developed by Horizons, and that the group homes the organization oversees are special places for people with special needs.

Horizons client Paul Rollins was born in Hayden. He lived with his parents in Craig for some time.

"I moved out of my parents' house in 1976," Rollins said. "They wanted me to stay, but it was time to make a living on my own."

He lived in Brown's Hotel until medical problems forced him into a care facility.

With the special attention Rollins needed, the only answer for his family, when it came to long-term care, was to check him into a nursing home. That's where he would spend the next 15 years of his life, until one day in 1998.

"Horizons got me out of there," Rollins said.

He credits two women with his move toward independence -- Ester Schrader and Vicki Flanders.

"They would always come see me. We would go out for coffee," Rollins said. "Then I came over to the Duke House and lived with Horizons."

Rollins was such an influence on the organization that the Duke House was named because of his love for John Wayne movies.

The Duke House has since given way to the three homes run by Horizons in the city of Craig.

The Rainbow House, Park Place and Victory Way make up the group homes in Craig, and they are available to Moffat County residents with special needs.

Rollins lives in Park Place with three other residents and round-the-clock assistance from caretakers.

"We all get along," Rollins said. "I go out by myself if I feel like it."

Rollins works around Park Place. He vacuums the floors in the front room and his room. At the Horizons office, he empties the trash every day, he said.

It's because of Horizons that Rollins is able to live independently and in a regular house, and it's because of donations from events such as the Yahoo Golf Tournament that Horizons is able to exist for the special needs clients in Craig, Borvansky said.

The Yahoo Golf Tournament started in 2001 as a tribute to Ralph Knez by his brother Tom after Ralph was killed in a tractor accident. A couple of years later, Dan Severson joined the tournament to honor his father, Jim. Ralph and Jim loved to play golf.

Today, the tournament honors "a whole bunch of people whose names are on the trophy," Dan Severson said.

"Last year, we dropped 1,500 golf balls," he said. "This year, I think it will be more like 2,500 or 3,000."

Prizes include a big screen, high-definition TV, a weeklong stay in the U.S. or Mexico with airfare, half of a processed cow and a processed lamb.

The tournament kicks off with a shotgun start at 9 a.m. Saturday at Yampa Valley Golf Course. All spots in the tournament are filled.

But golf balls for the drop can be purchased today and Friday at Horizons Specialized Services, 356 Ranney St., and on Friday and Saturday at Yampa Valley Golf Course right up to the scheduled 8:30 a.m. drop time.

Severson estimates the tournament will raise more than $10,000 for Horizons.

That's great news for Borvan-sky, who said helping Horizons clients is the best feeling she can have.

It's also good news for Rollins, who said he appreciates every day what Horizons has done for him.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com.

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