LEOMINSTER — To live a selfless life is to go out of your way to do acts of kindness for others, and at the age of 73, Richard Armstrong, affectionately known as ‘Ace’, is by all accounts leading a giving life. .
Armstrong was given the nickname “Ace” in third grade by his physical education teacher, Ted Damko, who was also his basketball coach.
“I was a really good basketball player and always had the work ethic to do my best,” said Armstrong, who was later proudly inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
Armstrong then worked 27 years for the town of Leominster.
In 2017, Armstrong suffered a traumatic injury to his right leg, underwent multiple surgeries and rehabilitation, ending in the loss of his leg, and became a prosthetic patient at the Hanger Clinic.
A prosthetic leg can help leg amputees move around more easily. They mimic the movement, function and sometimes the appearance of a real leg.
“I believe it was that work ethic from my youth, along with the support of my family and friends, that got me through this difficult part of my life,” he said.
During his treatment, Armstrong was introduced to the Hanger Foundation.
As its website states, “The Hanger Foundation was founded in 2009 by Hanger, Inc., and its mission is to advance our communities by supporting 501c3 organizations that help people with physical challenges live life as fully as possible. as possible.”
With the help of his healthcare team at the Hanger Clinic, family and friends, he was able to walk again within eight months.
But this time, it wasn’t Armstrong’s work ethic that spurred him on, “it was the kids I saw at the Hanger Clinic, getting fitted for prostheses, who gave me the more inspired and touched my heart,” he said.
Because of this heartwarming experience and to Armstrong’s surprise, his good friend, Rocco Warren of Fitchburg, hosted the first annual Kickstand Golf Tournament in August 2020, and this tradition has continued and grown in popularity.
Money raised from all tournaments went directly to the Hanger Foundation.
“We did this for Ace because he wanted to help send kids to local camps so they know they can still live an abundant life and everything will be okay,” Warren said.
The 2020 Kickstand Golf Tournament raised more than $3,500 and Armstrong hoped the funds raised would benefit programs like Camp No Limits, whose mission is to educate and empower youth who have lost a limb to discover and develop a healthy, happy and independent lifestyle, as well as with BlazeSports America and Move United.
Armstrong’s friends didn’t stop there, hosting the second annual Kickstand Golf Tournament last July, which raised $3,400.
“With the help of so many amazing people and partnerships, like the Hanger Foundation, these camps and special programs are growing and are far from stopping,” Armstrong said. “There are more opportunities than ever to connect and learn for young people in the amputee community.”
By popular demand, and to continue raising funds for the Hanger Foundation, the third annual Kickstand Golf Tournament is scheduled for this Sunday, at Monoosnock Country Club.
Armstrong has been a real encouragement to many here in Leominster.
“He’s a real inspiration to me and all of his friends,” Warren said. “We are thrilled to be able to pull this all together to make this happen and to continue to do so.”
Hanger’s legacy of charitable giving began over 160 years ago. For many years, Hanger clinicians and employees have regularly and generously donated millions of dollars in care and financial contributions to various causes, including difficult cases in their own communities.
“Children should be able to lead full lives regardless of the physical challenges they face; and this foundation is here to help amputees and people with limb difference do just that,” Armstrong said.
Registration for the Kickstand Golf Tournament is closed, however, donations are still accepted and appreciated.
For more information about the Hanger Foundation and how to donate, visit www.hangerfoundation.org.