By Janice Whelan Shea, Esq.
Three years ago, Breid Fischer of Cold Spring Harbor could no longer walk a golf course, but she didn’t let that stop her from playing.
Reaching into her bag of determination to find a solution, Breid showcased her swing at Crab Meadow Golf Course on July 27 during an outing hosted by the Stand Up and Play Foundation, which helps handicapped people play sports. The outing raised funds toward the purchase of the first publically-owned ParaGolfer, a powered wheelchair used by handicapped people to play golf, in New York State.
Deep roots precede Breid’s journey to ParaGolfer ambassador. Her father, Mick Morrissey, won three All-Ireland Hurling medals before bringing his family to the U.S. He also founded the Emerald Golf Society for Gaelic sports people in 1978. Each year since his death in 1993, the society hosts the Mick Morrissey Memorial Golf Outing.
As for Breid, by age 13 she won the North American Irish Dance Championship while wearing costumes hand-sewn by her mother. Breid returned to Ireland for high school, but came back to the states to start a 30-year banking career. Even with a profound spinal injury in 1982, Breid graduated college, commuted and golfed at Crab Meadow.
In 2013, Breid underwent carefully researched surgeries to correct spinal complications. Things did not go as planned and, today, she relies on a walker for accessibility.
Earlier this year, Breid founded the Long Island Chapter of Stand Up and Play and planned the outing at Crab Meadow to fund a publicly-owned ParaGolfer for use by veteran and civilian golfers alike.
Breid’s outing gained ground support from Huntington Councilman Mark Cuthbertson; Don McKay, the town’s director of Parks and Recreation; Mike Gaffney, Crab Meadow general manger; Bill Shannon, Crab Meadow director; and Darren deMaille, Crab Meadow golf pro.
Anthony Netto, ParaGolfer creator, demonstrated the device at the outing.
As reported in the Washington Post in 2010, “Anthony learned to play at 5 in his native South Africa and went on to run a collection of golf schools in Europe. A 1994 car crash left him a paraplegic… With a friend, he tinkered in his garage until they had created a contraption that could roll through the steepest rough and lift its user into a standing position.”
Breid’s dream outing took place at Crab Meadow with dignitaries, several veterans and 99 golfers, many from Mick’s Emerald Golf Society. Breid raised ample funds to complete a ParaGolfer purchase for Huntington.
Hardee’s Restaurants subsidized a significant portion of the ParaGolfer cost through its Stars for Heroes Campaign, which benefits U.S. veterans and their families through the Gary Sinise Foundation and Stand Up and Play. The Long Island chapter of Stand Up and Play is accepting ongoing donations to install other ParaGolfers at local courses to help a wider base of disabled veterans and civilians across Long Island.
Breid, her husband Mark and son Gavin are longtime supporters of St. Patrick’s School in Huntington, Boy Scouts and Chaminade High School.