PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- PGA Professional Alana-Marie Brahler, a PGA assistant professional at Forsyth Country Club in Winston-Salem, N.C., has been named the recipient of the 2012 Conrad Rehling Award for her contributions to Special Olympics Golf. Brahler was honored Aug. 27, at the Carolinas PGA Area IV Meeting at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.
Brahler, 42, is a native of West Sunbury, Pa., and a 1994 graduate of Slippery Rock (Pa.) University, who turned professional in 2000 and was elected to PGA membership in 2010. Brahler has spent more than 20 years officiating and operating local, member and charitable competitions. She first volunteered with Special Olympics at a local level in 1998 teaching and organizing clinics. Since 2004, she has served as a technical delegate - organizing the golf venue and competition - at Special Olympics National Invitational Tournaments (NIT) across the country and at the 2011 Summer World Games in Athens, Greece. Brahler will be a technical delegate Oct. 17-20, at the 2013 Special Olympics NIT at the Seaview Resort in Absecon, N.J.
"It is not about me; it's about the athletes," said Brahler. "It's an honor and a privilege to work with them. I have been blessed to have worked with great people along the way. My mentor and someone who is an adopted father, Dr. Eric Wilson (the 2010 Conrad Rehling recipient of Port St. Lucie, Fla., and a Special Olympics Golf Committee member), along with Trey Holland (former USGA president), and all committee members, who have been inspirations to me.
"It has been amazing how far Special Olympics has come since I have been involved. The highlight of any of these competitions is the interactions that I have had with my fellow PGA members from numerous golf courses throughout the U.S., current and former USGA staff members, golf course staffs, the Special Olympics delegations from each state and the families and coaches. The Special Olympics experience is a non-paying, fun job with the highest of rewards."
Brahler's sports management expertise blended in Special Olympics where she serve at all National Invitational Tournaments since 2004, along with assignments at the 2005 South Carolina Fall Games, the 2007-09, and 2011 North Carolina Fall Games; the 2008 Virginia Winter Games Volunteer Individual Skill Testing, and the 2010 National Summer Games in Lincoln, Neb.
"I got to know Alana when she worked at Grande Dunes Golf Club in Myrtle Beach as an apprentice then under Dr. Eric Wilson, and saw her work with Special Olympic athletes," said Carolinas PGA Executive Director Ron Schmid. "I saw her passion, her tremendous love for the athletes. Her eyes lit up and their eyes lit up as they worked together. I know that Alana would say that it is all about the athletes. It also is about those who work with the athletes, people like Alana, who are committed to share with others."
Currently, 50 U.S. Special Olympic Programs offer golf training and competition, and nearly 23,000 participating in golf competitions in Special Olympics North America. The program is offered in more than 50 countries worldwide.
"In the years that I have known Alana, I have seen how dedicated she is to serving any role to benefit Special Olympics," said Craig Pippert, Special Olympics North America Senior Manager of Sports Development. "She is someone who goes both feet into an event to ensure that it is run at a top-notch level. I think that Conrad Rehling would be very proud of Alana receiving this award."
Special Olympics International reports that there are more than 4.2 million Special Olympics athletes - ages 8 and older—representing more than 170 countries. Golf is one of 30 Olympic-style summer and winter sports offered by Special Olympics.
About Special Olympics Golf
Special Olympics Golf, part of a worldwide sports program for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, offers five levels of competition for athletes with different ability levels. Ranging from individual skills competition to alternate-shot team play to individual stroke play, Special Olympics Golf allows athletes to grow in the game as they gain experience.
About the Conrad Rehling Award
First presented in 2005, the Conrad Rehling Award honors the late PGA Master Professional who followed a successful collegiate coaching career at Florida and Alabama by transforming his retirement into inspiring PGA Professionals to give back to the physically challenged. Rehling died in April 2007 at age 87. The founding father of the Special Olympics Golf movement in 1988, Rehling spearheaded The PGA of America's efforts to introduce golf to Special Olympics. The Association and its 27,000 men and women professionals have dedicated countless hours, services and funding to the growth of Special Olympics Golf.
Conrad Rehling Award Recipients
2005 - Jesse Weeks, Memphis, Tenn.
2006 - Steve Carson, Oklahoma City, Okla.
2007 - Jeff Beaudry, Sandy, Utah
2008 - Tom Addis III, Beaumont, Calif.
2009 - Frank Selva, Orange, Conn.
2010 - Dr. Eric Wilson, Port St. Lucie, Fla.
2011 - Greg Leicht, Gilbert, Ariz.
2012 - Alana-Marie Brahler, Winston-Salem, N.C.
About The PGA of America
Since its founding in 1916, The PGA of America has maintained a twofold mission: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf. By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, The PGA enables its professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in the multi-billion dollar golf industry. By creating and delivering world-class championships and innovative programs, The PGA of America elevates the public's interest in the game, the desire to play more golf, and ensures accessibility to the game for everyone, everywhere. As The PGA nears its centennial, the PGA brand represents the very best in golf.