Greenville Shriners patient savors trips to golf, basketball tournaments

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  • Chesson Hadley
    Chesson Hadley
    American professional golfer

Parker Dunkin missed his first seventh-grade basketball game last week, but it was still a pretty good sports week for the 12-year-old from Oxford, North Carolina.

A regular patient at the Shriners Hospitals for Children-Greenville, Dunkin was treated to a trip to Sea Island, Georgia, for the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic and a trip to Charleston for the Shriners Childrens Charleston Classic basketball tournament.

On Thursday, he spent the day “behind the ropes” with PGA Tour regular Chesson Hadley, a former Georgia Tech golfer who is from Raleigh, N.C., not far from Dunkin’s hometown.

He also met former South Carolina baseball standout Jackie Bradley Jr., who plays for the Milwaukee Brewers.

With Dunkin close at hand during the opening round, Hadley fired an eight-under par 63, prompting Hadley’s wife to tell Dunkin that her husband might need Dunkin back out there on the course if he started making bogeys.

Parker Dunkin, right, spent Thursday with PGA Tour regular Chesson Hadley.
Parker Dunkin, right, spent Thursday with PGA Tour regular Chesson Hadley.

Unfortunately, Hadley could have used Dunkin’s presence in the second round; Hadley ballooned to a 76 in the second round and missed the cut by a single stroke.

On Friday, Dunkin and his mother, Sharonda Bullock, were in attendance at the basketball tournament in Charleston with a front-row seat for the Clemson vs. St. Bonaventure game as well as the Marquette vs. West Virginia game.

He was the “patient ambassador” for the latter game and was introduced to the crowd at center court while his story was shared by the public address announcer.

It's a story with a frightening beginning, but a happy ending. Their lives changed on the first day of school in the fall of 2019 on what his mother described as “a normal Friday morning."

Then things became not-so-normal.

Sharonda suffered a seizure while driving Parker to school.

“We were in a curve, so we should have hit traffic head-on, but I went off to the right into a field of trees,” Sharonda said. “Parker came out of the back seat and went into action.”

Parker Dunkin, right, met Jackie Bradley Jr., during the RSM Classic golf tournament on Thursday.
Parker Dunkin, right, met Jackie Bradley Jr., during the RSM Classic golf tournament on Thursday.

Parker unbuckled himself and stretched over the front seat in an attempt to take the wheel. He couldn’t avoid a wreck, but his rapid response likely prevented his infant brother, Bryson, who was in a car seat, from suffering serious injury.

“When he reached from the back seat his rib cage punctured his lungs, liver and gall bladder,” Bullock said. “He also suffered a broken ankle.”

Complications with sufficient blood flow in the accident’s aftermath left the family with a simple decision: “They told us they would have to do an amputation to allow him to live. Otherwise he wouldn’t be with us today," Bullock said.

Dunkin is not only here, but thriving. A below-the-knee amputee, he’s an active seventh grader and avid sports enthusiast who loves basketball and NBA star Kevin Durant of the Nets. His favorite football player is quarterback Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs.

He’ll be back in Greenville on Dec.10 for his next adjustment to his prosthesis, which is required about every six months.

“He just goes with the flow,” Bullock said. “He’s not going to let too much stop him.”

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Shriners patient savors trips to PGA Tour, basketball tournaments

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