Ariana Saenz epitomizes what it means to grow up through the First Tee, a nonprofit organization of roughly 150 chapters that prides itself in teaching children life skills alongside golf instruction.
Saenz, born and raised in Houston, Texas, endured open-heart surgery at 3 years old to mend two holes in her heart that doctors hoped would have closed naturally in the first two years of her life. Her father, Jesus, worked two jobs to help pay the medical bills and still made time to join his wife, Maria, in visiting their daughter every day during her four-month recovery in the hospital.
Coincidentally, that uncertain time led to Ariana playing golf and eventually spending 10 years in the First Tee of Greater Houston chapter.
Ariana Saenz and her father, Jesus Photo: Courtesy Ariana Saenz
“The doctors told my parents that I needed to get up and move around because I had been laying in bed a lot,” Ariana said. “So my dad went to the nearest convenience store and bought me a set of plastic golf clubs. I would walk around my r...
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