|Major Dan Rooney and the Kansas women’s golf team
| Folds of Honor Results
|Marilynn Smith Sunflower Invitational
|Chip-N Club Invitational
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas women’s golf team was in Eagle Bend Golf Course in Lawrence, Kansas Oct. 8 to practice its short game, though the Jayhawks left with life lessons they would hold on to for a long time.
Major Dan Rooney, founder of the organization Folds of Honor, visited the team to impart some words of wisdom. Rooney, a KU men’s golfer from 1992-96, was in Lawrence to accept a Distinguished Alumni Award from the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the school’s highest award for graduates later that evening. He is also a former PGA professional who remains a member of the USGA and a retired F-16 fighter pilot in the Oklahoma National Guard.
A man who accomplished both of his childhood dreams of playing professional golf and flying fighter jets, Rooney recounted an instance at KU that would forever change his life; the day a professor taught him the meaning of volition.
“(The professor) said, ‘Well it’s the most powerful word in the world. Volition is the power of choice. Every day you wake up you have a choice. You can think positive or negative. You can build things up or tear them down. You can choose to be uncommon. You can choose the hard right. You can choose to pursue your passions. But understand one thing, the choices you make today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, will culminate to write the legacy of your life.’,” Rooney explained of an experience while at KU. “He (the professor) walks back to the board and he writes down what will become the road map for my whole life. He said, ‘Every choice you make follows a logical path. It starts with I won’t do that, I can’t do that, I’d like to do that, I’ll try to do that, I can do that, I will do that. Forget the first four, they don’t matter. If you can make it to I will, nothing in your life can stop you.'”
As stated on its website, Folds of Honor is dedicated toward “providing educational support to spouses and children of America’s fallen and wounded soldiers.” Since its founding in 2007, the organization has raised $70 million for families of deceased or disabled veterans and expects to raise $13 million more in the upcoming fall. The KU women’s golf team is supporting this mission by auctioning off a special Folds of Honor golf bag that will be carried at every event this season by Jayhawk. The proceeds of the auction will benefit the Katzenberger family of Parkville, Missouri. Staff Sargent Jeremy Katzenberger died serving his country in 2011 and is survived by his wife Colleen and son Everett. Through the Folds of Honor organization, Mrs. Katzenberger was able to receive a scholarship and pursue her goal of becoming a teacher. The Katzenberger family will visit the KU women’s golf team later this month.
Before he left, Rooney gave the team one last piece of advice.
“When you take a candle and you build a fire beside it, the wind coming off of the lake will extinguish the candle, but it will stoke the fire,” he said. “In life you’ve got to be that fire, you’ve got to crave the wind. You’ve got to crave making it as hard as it can be, as challenging as it could be. Only then will you know what you’ve got in your gut and how high you’re able to elevate yourself.”
Since founding the Folds of Honor in 2007, Rooney has received many awards including the White House’s Presidential Volunteer Service Award, the Air National Guard’s Distinguished Service Medal, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the PGA of America’s first-ever Patriot Award. His many decorations for service include the Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Medal, Anti-terrorism Medal, Combat Readiness Medal and Air Expeditionary Medal.
Rooney was also able to visit the men’s golf team’s practice earlier in the day and planned on attending KU’s football game against Baylor on Saturday.
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