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Golf tournament benefits guide-dog program

April 10, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
You won't see a green jacket at the end of this golf tournament, but you will see a lot of wagging tails. Organizers are gearing up for the 8th annual "Tee Off For Dogs" in Dana Point.

Frank Frand loves to play golf and doesn't mind getting some pointers. The 66-year-old, however, is not your average golfer. Frand is blind. He was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa 35 years ago.

"I used to drive, I did a lot of sports, I played a lot of tennis, played rugby and baseball and cricket, and had a good laugh. And realized all of the sudden, you know, 'I don't see the ball coming anymore,'" said Frand.

Frand lost confidence as his sight worsened -- until he gained a partner. Never far away is his 7-year-old guide dog "Cardinal."

"Even when I say 'Go,' they won't go if they feel it's too dangerous to walk," said Frand, "So it kind of makes life really nice for me to be able to get out and do things without thinking about falling down and hurting myself."

Frand met Cardinal through Guide Dogs for the Blind. The program has provided him with two working dogs over the years free of charge. They're trained as puppies by volunteers.

"What really keeps you going is when you meet someone that uses a guide dog and they tell you how much it's changed their life," said Cindy Richter.

Frand not only took up golf, but he began a charity golf tournament to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Frand started his first Tee Off for Dogs Golf Tournament back in 2005. At that time he raised more than $13,000.

Eight years later, he's raised more than $200,000 for guide dogs. This year's event, April 29 at Monarch Beach Golf Links in Dana Point. Frand hopes the money raised will help others gain the freedom he feels so fortunate to have.

"What they've given back to me I can't repay," said Frand. "It's my way to say thanks. It's really that simple."

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