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Steve Jones tackles cause close to heart

(Photo: Bruce Young)
PGA Tour of Australasia Professional Steve Jones will be undertaking a challenge of a different kind when he participates in the Karingal Hundred Hole Hike to raise money for a charity close to his heart.

The Karingal Hundred Hole Hike challenges people to play 100 holes in one day, without a cart, to help raise funds for acquired brain injury programs.

Jones and 21 other players will undertake the mammoth effort at 13th Beach Golf Links in Barwon Heads on Thursday 23rd January.

A seasoned competitor on the PGA Tour of Australasia, Jones is used to the rigours of tournament golf yet 100 holes in one day is a challenge he is yet to tackle.

"I think the hardest part will be the physical requirement to cover such a huge distance," said Jones who will play for 14 hours consecutively, covering 60 kilometers and playing an estimated 400 shots.

However it is a challenge he is willing to take on ahead of the PGA Tour of Australasia season with funds raised going towards programs to support those living with an acquired brain injury.

Jones and his wife Katie know firsthand what life is like with an acquired brain injury. The young couple had their lives changed dramatically when Katie was left with an injury after being diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2010.

"Through my personal experience with acquired brain injuries I know how important the cause is so the mental motivation for me to complete the challenge is already there," added Jones.

The couple, who met at the Australian Institute of Sport through their mutual ability and love for golf, were on the golf course when Katie had an "˜unexpected and unexplainable' epileptic seizure.

After a series of tests doctors discovered Katie had a non-aggressive grade two astrocytoma, a type of brain tumour, the size of a ping-pong ball in the rear left side of her brain. She promptly had surgery to remove the tumour but still lives with the effects of the damage she sustained to her brain today, damage that is classified as a type of acquired brain injury.

"Discovering the tumour was an absolute shock," said Jones.

"Although she has since recovered well, there are still lingering side-effects from the surgery.

"All in all she has come through like a champion, but she still struggles from time to time with epilepsy symptoms.

"We constantly monitor things and she has scans every nine months, but she can't push herself as hard as she used to."

Understanding the serious nature of an acquired brain injury will be extra motivation for Jones to complete the Hundred Hole Hike and he hopes that those in the golfing community will help support him by donating to the cause.

"Katie's acquired brain injury came out of the blue and it has changed our lives forever. After going through this I can sympathise with individuals and families who suffer acquired brain injuries and know one thing for sure "“ they need support," added Jones.

"That is why I am very excited about putting my hand up for the Hundred Hole Hike to try and raise money and awareness for this great charity and cause."

Taking on the Hundred Hole Hike at 13th Beach Golf Links will have extra special meaning to Jones, who grew up in the area, but also competed on the course at the 2013 Victorian Open with Katie on the bag.

Demonstrating that they make a powerhouse team Jones was in contention throughout the tournament and just one shot back heading into the final round before finishing tied 6th.

The couple will be back at 13th Beach Golf Links for the 2014 Oates Victorian Open from the 20 "“ 23 February but this time Katie won't be caddying as she will be carrying something more important than a bag, five month old Jackson, the couple's first child.

Just like with Katie Jones, an acquired brain injury can happen to anyone, at any time.

In the blink of an eye an acquired brain injury can dramatically change a person's life and they could find themselves facing a lifetime of disability with a range of medical, physical, cognitive and sensory issues as well as the emotional and psychological impacts often associated with an acquired brain injury.

"Money raised at the Hundred Hole Hike will help us establish a new ABI Clubhouse to support this growing sector of the population in the Barwon region," said Daryl Starkey, Chief Executive Officer of Karingal.

"The ABI Clubhouse will offer these people a place where they can spend time with others who are having a similar experience and will provide them with important peer and social support."

For information on how to pledge a donation to Steve, or any of the participating golfers, click here to visit "Karingal's website.":https://www.karingal.org.au/events

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