Partially paralyzed man takes another shot at life through golf

Published: Mar. 6, 2013 at 12:06 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 6, 2013 at 12:10 AM EST
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SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - Fred Gutierrez is taking another swing at life. The partially paralyzed veteran, who is dealing with PTSD, walked 36 holes at Miler Country Club in Summerville Tuesday to raise awareness for PTSD treatments and to collect donations for a local veteran charity.

"It's been a journey," said Gutierrez. "It's been a wonderful journey."

At a distance, Gutierrez doesn't stand out on the golf course he just does everything very soundly.

His drives go right down the center of the fairway. His approach is impeccable.

But when you take a closer look, Fred is scoring in the 80's using only half of his body.

"I've had to overcome so much," said Gutierrez.

His left hand is clenched, his left leg is shuffling at his side. Fred is partially paralyzed and has been that way for 16 years.

"I just couldn't deal with it," said Gutierrez. "I put a .38 to my head and pulled the trigger. The bullet went straight into my brain and left a golf ball sized hole in the right hemisphere in my left brain leaving me paralyzed on the left side."

Gutierrez suffers from PTSD. His years serving in the United States Navy and as a border patrol agent were experiences he couldn't shake. He says taking his life was his only option.

But Gutierrez didn't die that day. The golfer was told he would be in a wheelchair the rest of his life.

"This is not me, this is not who I am," Gutierrez said. "This is not what I want to become. I've got to do something with myself."

So Gutierrez did just that and golf has become his life. @

"There have been so many times in the last six months that I've literally been in awe watching what he's done," says his golf partner Rich O'Brien. "You don't see someone making these improvements after being paralyzed for the last 16 years."

Along with golf, botox injections and acupuncture for his paralysis and PTSD symptoms, respectively, are  other treatments he's experimenting with. He says both treatments have worked wonders.

Fred walked over eight miles to play 36 holes Tuesday. His goal was to help a local charity called Gifting Warriors, a group that helps deserving veterans that need support.

Fred shot an 85 on the first 18 holes followed by a 95 on the second 18. His score on his first round was a career best.

Afterward, Fred returned to the clubhouse to a room of more than 50 people to celebrate his accomplishment.

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