Commonwealth Journal

July 14, 2013

Staying on course

After facing health hazards, PCHS golfer now fitter, ready to play as senior

BY DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

For the most part, Lexie Parks is your average golfer — someone who loves the game, even though she has her good days and her bad days on the golf course like most golfers experience.
Yes, there are good shots and then there are those bad shots, and Parks herself will quickly tell you and readily admit that she considers herself an ‘average’ golfer.
But make no mistake about it, Parks is not average — no, far from it.
The only returning senior this fall for the Pulaski County Lady Maroon golf team, Parks has already notched the biggest win of her career— and that came in the game of life.
For this PC senior to even be able to pick up a golf club and compete on a course against anyone is an amazing story — for that matter to even be alive in itself is truly a blessing.
Parks began playing golf while in the eighth grade at Science Hill School under the direction of Chris Luttrell.
As a freshman at PC, she made the varsity tennis team and also played on the golf team.
But, something was wrong — not with her game but with her health. In short, Lexie Parks did not feel well at all.
In fact, there were days when she was just downright exhausted after playing only nine holes, usually ending up with a red face and experiencing trouble breathing.
After her freshman year at PC, spending time with her family on a vacation in the Bahamas and at Disney World, Parks well-being seemed to be declining at an alarming rate.
She felt very ill for most of that trip, suffering from nausea and just feeling completely exhausted.
When she came home from that family vacation, her parents sought medical attention to see what was wrong with their daughter.
After going through several tests — one that showed her blood pressure at an alarming level almost off the charts — she was seen by several physicians.
On October 13, 2011 during her sophomore year at Pulaski County High School, Lexie Parks walked into the University of Kentucky Medical Center and was treated by Dr. Chisti, who immediately placed her in UK’s Pediatric ICU for a week.
And then, after treatment and tests, finally came the diagnosis that no 15-year old kid wants to hear — Lexie Parks was diagnosed as suffering from obesity.
The PC senior said at that moment, it was one of the hardest things she had ever had to listen to.
“That hit me pretty hard because I had been made fun of as a kid growing up about my weight, and hearing that just broke my heart, and I just kind of broke down at that moment,” stated Parks.
“There was part of me that wanted it to be something else that was wrong and it wasn’t my weight that was the problem, because I had avoided it for so long,” Parks added. “A lot of girls my age struggle with weight issues today, and if nothing else comes out of my story, hopefully, if there is someone out there that is struggling with this problem, they will see me as an inspiration and seek help and treatment.”
Despite keeping a positive attitude through the midst of a storm that no 15-year old should have to endure, not all was sunshine and roses for Parks.
She struggled with her health — she struggled with her weight. And, worst of all, there would be no golf as a sophomore, as she just wasn’t healthy enough to participate in a sport that she loved.
She had to watch her teammates and friends compete that season at PC while she sat in a golf cart as an observer and cheerleader.
Her mother — Libby Parks — says that despite all the adversity while Lexie was in the Pediatric ICU section at UK, the family never doubted for a moment that Lexie would walk out of the UK Med. Center due to a deep and devoted faith to God.
“We were told at this time that Lexie was very lucky that she did not collapse during her freshman season on the golf course,” stated Libby Parks.
“They told us it would have been fatal,” she added. “We don’t believe in luck — we believe in God’s hand of protection.”
Lexie Parks — with help from her family, the caring staff at UK Medical Center headed up by Dr. Chisti, and a strong faith in God, made a remarkable recovery, making it all the way back to the golf course playing for Pulaski County last fall as a junior.
This summer — in preparation for her senior year — Lexie Parks has been participating in the Southeast Kentucky Junior Golf Tour, taking part in approximately 13 tournaments with approximately 140 other participants.
What’s that about just being an ‘average’ golfer?
Last month — June 13th to be exact — Lexie Parks got to experience a golfer’s dream.
Playing in a tournament on the tour, she made a hole in one on the par three at Woodson Bend’s sixth hole.
“You have got to give Lexie a lot of credit for the courage she has shown in still wanting to play golf,” stated Bill Moore, Director of the Southeast Kentucky Junior Golf Tour.
“She’s been a very nice young lady to have on our tour, and I really think she enjoys playing the game,” pointed out Moore. “We’re just happy she’s part of the Southeast Tour. There’s a lot of golfers that go through their whole career that never get to experience a hole in one. In 15 years of the Southeast Junior Tour, that was the third hole in one that we’ve had during a tournament. That’s quite a few tournaments and quite a few kids that have played over that time frame, so that is a very special accomplishment for Lexie.”
Parks is healthy today for the most part, playing at 90 pounds less than she did as a freshman almost three years ago at Pulaski County High School.
She has displayed to her peers, coaches, and opponents the characteristics and traits that any coach looks for in an athlete — perseverance, determination, and a desire to be the very best.
“Through this whole experience I have learned to enjoy each day, because you’re not promised anything, and you’re certainly not promised tomorrow,” stated Parks.
“I was a Christian when I went into the hospital, but I am a better Christian today,” added the Lady Maroon golfer. “I went through so much. I want people to see that you have to be ready to leave, because everything else really just doesn’t matter.
What matters today is the simple fact that Lexie Parks is a shining example and inspiration to each of us — not just those who may be suffering from obesity.
“If anyone that reads this is struggling with obesity and having health issues because of it, I pray and encourage them to find the inner strength to seek help,” Parks stated.
Now Parks may never win any prestigious golf tournaments along the way from this point on, and she will probably not go down as one of the all-time greats to ever hit the links wearing Pulaski County colors.
However, as a person, to be perfectly honest, Parks is in a league all by her self.
She is mature well beyond her years, and we can all learn a great deal from the example this young lady has displayed in the very face of fear and adversity.
For that Lexie, you came into the clubhouse atop the leaderboard — a job well done.