“When you’re lying in bed with a lot of bandages, no feet, and no hands, you have two options. One, you say you can’t. The other, you say you can. I couldn’t lie there. I have great-grandchildren. I love teaching them, keeping up with them. They are growing faster than weeds. So I said, EQ, GET UP, GET GOING.

One, you say you can’t. The other, you say you can.

These simple but profound words from Edmund “EQ” Sylvester give us a glimpse into a mindset that anyone can learn from no matter their situation. It is one of persistence. To make the best out of your life with the cards you have been dealt.  

EQ has done just that. 

Since suffering a near-death experience in 2011, EQ took a situation that would crumble many and turned it into a foundation that helps thousands of people have better lives through golf.

International Businessman

Prior to this quote, EQ was a successful businessman and entrepreneur working for world renowned companies such a General Motors before starting his own business. He eventually sold his company, Fibrex Corp, in 2010.

EQ retired with plans to pursue his hobbies of golf and photography while spending time with his grandchildren.

These dreams were sidelined as EQ suffered an infection in his kidney which developed into sepsis. Mr. Sylvester left the hospital a triple amputee.

The Freedom Golf Association

EQ went to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago where he learned how to walk and feed himself with two fingers. 

He also had to learn what he could do with his new body. Being a very active and persistent man, he first learned how to swim with no feet and hands. If this wasn’t impressive enough, he then learned again to ride a horse.

Finally, he wanted to get back to his true passion of golf. EQ wrestled with learning how to hit the ball with his new body. He started researching professional instruction for physically disabled but struggled to find any.

In the process of that research, he also discovered that there are “18 million physically disabled that want to play golf, but like me, they couldn’t find any professional instruction. The second constraint they had was that when they went to a golf course, they were not welcomed, or worse, they were turned away. So I said, wow, I think I have a new mission in life.”

Born was The Freedom Golf Association.

Their first clinic was held in January 2013, and since it’s inception, they have helped over 4,000 people enjoy the game of golf.

This is not quite enough for EQ. He has two big initiatives which he is currently working on to further his involvement with the disabled golf community.

One, he wants to get Paragolf recognized by the Paralympic Committee as an official sport in the games.

His second big initiative, helping wounded veterans suffering from PTSD. EQ discovered that there are 350,000 wounded veterans in this country suffering from the disorder.

Through his foundation, he has seen the incredible mental, physical and social benefits of the game. EQ is currently furthering research to show that golf can be a possible treatment for our wounded veterans.

EQ is a magnificent man. His aspirational story can teach anyone the true power of persistence. EQ turned a traumatic event into an extreme positive. There are not many people in this world that have the ability to do just that.

It was an honor to interview EQ. If you are as inspired by his story as I am, please visit the link to donate to the Freedom Golf Association and help EQ on his mission to make lives better through golf: www.fgagolf.org/donate

Check out the Podcast to hear EQ talk about his remarkable journey and the lessons learned along the way!