by Scott King
The Brent Sopel Foundation held a celebrity golf tournament at Ruffled Feathers in Lemont on Wednesday. The foundation, started two years ago by former Blackhawks defenseman and 2010 Stanley Cup champion Brent Sopel, benefits those battling Dyslexia.
“Dyslexia is so new that a majority of the world doesn’t even know what it is,” said the former shot-blocking blue-liner, who suffers from the learning disorder. “We’ve been growing it slowly because there’s a lot of education that’s going in to get people behind it.
“So far, so good. Every conversation that we have with somebody about dyslexia, it opens their eyes.”
Sopel and the organizers of the event were able to bring out special guests like Dennis Quaid and Christopher McDonald of Happy Gilmore fame.
“I’ve seen Dennis’ movies many, many times and Happy Gilmore, who doesn’t like that as a golfer, you’ll love that movie and I wanted to bring different people in,” Sopel said.
“I wanted to do something a little bit different and bring some different individuals into it to make it new and exciting. There’s a couple guys that could make it work around their schedule so it worked out well.”
For Brent, 42, the work he puts into his foundation is easy, because it’s personal.
“It’s something I live with every day,” Sopel said. “I struggle every single day with it and that’s what it is.
“I finally found out what my purpose is: it’s to be here for the kids and advocate and try to make a difference and let them know they’re not alone. It’s 1-in-5, so you’re talking about 20 percent of the population has it.”
Brent knows firsthand that beyond the challenges of dealing with the disorder itself, the stigmas and emotions that come with it weigh heavily on those coping.
“The biggest problem with dyslexia is self-esteem,” Sopel said. “I didn’t find out until 10 years ago. I was reading at a grade-4 level in high school. There’s scars in there that will never go away and that’s what I’m trying to prevent is that kids don’t get these scars.
“We’ll always struggle, we’ll always see the world differently, but knowing what it is and being taught the right way, at a young… You got some of the richest people in the world that have it: Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Aniston, Orlando Bloom, Kobe Bryant, the list goes on.
“You can be very, very successful in this world having it, just understanding that you have it and you learn a little bit differently, if you’re not told that you’re dumb and stupid over and over again, it changes your world.”
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