Hitting the links for Luke

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Golf tourney to benefit ailing recent LHS grad

By Mike Forster


Sometimes, you're dealt a lousy hand.

Sometimes that bum deal comes at the most inopportune of times.

Sometimes it comes in a form that is both stunning and mystifying.

And when such misfortune strikes, it is in our human nature to lash out in anger or to wallow in introspective pity.

Not Luke Arrington.

The 18-year old native of Bedford County was recently diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, a cancer of the blood.

It was the spring of his senior year at Liberty High School.  He was on his way to being named the top in the automotive mechanics' program at the Bedford Science and Technology Center..

He had a girlfriend.  Graduation, prom and the subsequent parties all loomed.

Then came the kick in the chops.

His reaction?  "I'm blessed," he said.  "I'd rather be going through this than somebody else who couldn't handle it."

By "this," Luke means such things as undergoing an eight-treatment regimen of chemotherapy.  It means a loss of hair and a loss of his ability to taste food, especially ice cream and his mom's turkey sandwiches.    It means night sweats, during which he can feel the chemicals leaching from his skin.  It means numerous trips to the University of Virginia's Medical Center.  It means waiting and, most painful of all, it means not knowing what lies ahead.

With a calmness and a wisdom that belie his youth, Luke said, "I just see God's hand in it.  To get through this would be a testament to God."

There's also a chance for us mortals to help out.  On Saturday, August 9, Bedford Country Club will be the site of the Luke Arrington Benefit Golf Tournament.

"It's something I felt I could do," said Charles Giles, the golfing event organizer.  "I felt [this event] could bring Luke a little bit of comfort."

For a $200 entry fee, a four-person team can play at 8:15 a.m. or (for those who prefer their golf in the afternoon) at 1:00.

That entry fee also gets you cart rental and lunch, in addition to covering your green fees.

While this won't be world-class golf (all teams must have a combined handicap of 40 or greater), it will be for a world-class cause.

Luke faces an uncertain road ahead, though he looks at that road with a mix of optimism and faith.

As do his parents, Mark and Penny.  His dad stills seems a bit bewildered by it all, recalling being told of Luke's diagnosis.  "I had a healthy kid," he said of that day the family received that first diagnosis.  "Ten or 12 minutes later, I didn't."

But Mark has found his fellow Bedford residents to be there for him and his family.

"Our (Suck Springs Baptist) church's people came to us with the golf idea," said, Mark, a farmer.  "The hard part was letting go and having people help you.  You're used to working and providing for your family.

"I wanted to give the donations back, but they made it clear, 'This isn't about you...It's about Luke'.

"Bedford is a good place to live."

Luke seconds that sentiment, noting how his schoolmates came through for him in the springtime.  The BSTC hosted a benefit car show.  "I'd never been to one before," he noted.  "The best way to see one is to have one thrown for you," he added, with a chuckle 

Liberty High hosted a Bluegrass concert, as well.  As Luke loves Bluegrass music almost as much as he loves cars, the two events couldn't have been more appropriately themed.

"I can never thank everybody enough," he said.  "There are so many people donating dollars, and time, giving prayers and stopping by, calling and talking...There are probably people I don't even know who have supported me through this."

And, hopefully, he will also have a bunch of golfers, or would-be golfers, adding their support to the mix.

It's a nice gesture for a nice kid who, in spite of getting dealt a bad hand, keeps his chin up.

"I take it day by day," he said.  "If you let yourself get down...it will take you down."

And nobody wants that.


If interested in helping out, call Charles Giles at 540-586-1793.