Wellness 101: Reflection & Legacy Building in Indiana
Editor’s Note: This post is one in a series featuring the journey of wellness guru and golf enthusiast, A.J. Ali, who is traveling through every state in America while playing golf as part of a 101-day journey from June 16 to September 24 to promote the wellness lifestyle. After losing his father and brother to health-related illnesses and after a close call with a blood clot and pulmonary embolism two years ago, A.J. has dedicated his life to living well and sharing his experiences to encourage others to focus on wellness.
I awoke this morning in the historic French Lick Springs Hotel in French Lick, Ind. This little town with a huge legacy is where basketball legend Larry Bird grew up and it’s the location of one of America’s finest destinations, the French Lick Resort. I shot a 91 at the Donald Ross Golf Club yesterday — one of the resort’s championship courses that was designed by the master in 1917 and recently restored. Being in such a historic area, I decided to take a look back on the recent history of my trip.
I’ve been traveling the country for 40 days. My 50-state journey started on June 16th with $500 in my pocket, my golf clubs, clothes and my traveling office.
I arrived in Orlando and spent a few days with my friends Ari and Shannon Gronich while awaiting the delivery of my logo-wrapped SUV. At the end of this trip, I’ll be spending another month away from home helping Ari, Shannon and Raoul with a breast cancer awareness promotion in the Melbourne area. While doing so, I’ll also be making a few Wellness 101 appearances at resorts before finally returning home to Los Angeles.
This is an epic trip. So far, I’ve golfed in every state on the eastern seaboard and have started to make my way inland with rounds played in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. I’ve teed it up in 18 states, reconnected with several old friends and made a lot of new ones.
Golf is just a way of keeping score – a bucket list of 50 states of golf during my 50th year. The real reason for the journey is to promote wellness to the leaders and influencers who golf – to help steer their legacy toward wellness. My mission is not so much about birdies as it is about inspiring people to be on par with their potential. Life is short and I’ve seen too many people close to me, like my father, die of preventable illnesses.
Earlier this week, I dedicated my round at The Legacy in Ottawa Lake, Mich. to Marie Josephine Virginia (Kelliher) Maloney. Those close to her called her “G Gurl.” She would have celebrated her 95th birthday on July 29th.
Instead, her four children, 13 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren celebrated for her and reflected on her life as they mourn her passing. According to her son and my friend Bill Maloney, she wouldn’t want tears. She made the most of life and she transitioned to heaven surrounded by a loving family.
I’m proud to call Bill my friend and we are planning on golfing together in Chicago in a couple of weeks. He is a supporter of my wellness mission and a champion of encouraging people to “enjoy the ride.” It’s fitting that I played The Legacy in honor of G Gurl because, in the end, a legacy is what we leave to encourage our loved ones to carry on.
What’s your legacy?