When she was 6-months-old, a serious car accident almost took the life of Taylor Stidham. Although Taylor survived the wreck her life was changed forever.
"She was thrown 25 to 30 feet from the truck, landed on the concrete," said Taylor's father, Rodney Stidham. "When they got her to the hospital when the accident happened she wasn't alive. And you're thinking, 'Wow, what's our daughter gonna be like?' From being a vegetable to the next stage and next stage. Taylor was totally blind for a period of time. If you took a paper towel holder and look through it. [Then] put a piece of tape over the end of it and put a little slit in it that's about what she sees."
Years of extensive rehab and countless hospital visits later, Taylor walks and talks like any ordinary high schooler. But unlike her classmates, Taylor is legally blind, living with zero peripheral vision.
Despite Taylor's progress since the accident, she still can't perform basic functions alone. But with the help of her father she's found a distraction from her disability in a sport she's come to love.
"When I'm in front of the ball and I'm over it that's all I can see," the Hamilton High School senior said. "When I hit it the ball is out of my vision. [My father] can see the fairway everything."
The father-daughter team can be seen around the golf course with Rodney explaining to Taylor in detail where the ball is located - filling in what Taylor isn't able to see on her own.
"You know I'm sort of the eyes and she's the one that hits the ball," Rodney said. "I tell you I have learned a tremendous amount from her. I don't know if I would have done what she's done so far. You know, not one time has she said, 'Dad you know I can't hit it I'm blind.' If everybody had the attitude that she has we would be a lot better off."
Over the last 18 years, the Stidhams have been proud to raise a young woman who refuses to let her blindness define her. Today that disability has been anything but a handicap for the golfing duo.
"She don't want to be with anyone else out there," Terena, Taylor's mother, said. "She gets mad if Dad says she's going to scramble with somebody else. They have a good time together. You can hear them laughing on the other holes."
This year, Taylor was named a Bryant-Jordan Student-Achievement regional winner, an honor given to student-athletes who have overcome obstacles to achieve success in a sport.
"I love him being right there cause he just gives me reminders," Taylor said of her father. "I know that if I can't find it he knows exactly where it went. Golf is just really something that's found both of us."
But for the father-daughter team it's not about the awards and success as much as the time they spend together.
"We get a lot of issues of life out of the way while we play," Rodney said. "You know we enjoy the game. The winning part of it is in the playing. It's in the doing."
When Taylor and Rodney golf together their vision is flawless. Just a father and daughter chipping, putting and laughing through life's challenges along the greens.
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