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PGA Golf

Teen with rare blood disorder plays dream round with Rory McIlroy


Grace Vaughan had one of her dreams come true on Wednesday when she played a round of golf with Rory McIlroy during the Wells Fargo Championship Pro-Am at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C.

Vaughan, 16, suffers from a rare blood disorder and won the opportunity to golf with McIlroy after winning an essay contest put on by the tourney’s primary sponsor, Wells Fargo.

A South Carolina native and member of her high school golf team, Vaughan was born with hereditary spherocytosis and wrote in her winning essay (which can be read in its entirety here) about how she struggled to fit in at school and how she found strength and confidence after a getaway to Camp Courage.

“Growing up I was different than the other kids at school because of my medical condition,” Grace wrote, per a Charlotte Observer report. “I was bullied by the kids at my school. I didn’t like talking about it with anyone and pretended I didn’t hear all the name-calling and jokes about how I didn’t have a spleen and how I was always sick. I hated school and tried my hardest just to fit and just be normal.”

Vaughan got to decide which golfer to play with at the pro-am. Being McIlroy is her “favorite golfer,” the decision was a no-brainer.

“Today was like a dream come true. It was the best day ever,” Vaughan said. “It was an honor to play with Rory.”

McIlroy, meanwhile, indicated the pleasure was all his.

“I had a great time playing with Grace,” he said. “When I was (her) age, I had dreams and worked as hard as I could and never let anyone tell me that I couldn’t do it. I always tell young people to remember that.”

Between McIlroy’s day brightening the spirits of a young teen and Tiger Woods’ recent letter to a bullied teen and Roy Williams’ thoughtful gesture to another bullied youngster who was attacked at school, this has been a great week for these kind of heartwarming stories.

(image via Stan Olenik/Twitter)