Stacy Lewis’ journey from LPGA star, to charity champ, to mom far from over

KILDEER, IL - JULY 01: Stacy Lewis hits her tee shot on the fifth hole during the final round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on July 1, 2018 in Kildeer, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images for KPMG) Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Stacy Lewis’ journey from LPGA star, to charity champ, to mom far from over

Digital Edition

Stacy Lewis’ journey from LPGA star, to charity champ, to mom far from over

It was lunchtime at the home of Alfredia Brooks, where the Saint Bernard Project was putting on a 24-hour build. Stacy Lewis and her mother, Carol, had arrived with family friend Kelly Hayes at 8:30 a.m. Brooks’ home, wrecked by Hurricane Harvey one year ago, was down to the studs. Lewis spent the morning up on a ladder removing nails from the ceiling before installing insulation. Carol, a nurse, asked her very pregnant daughter if it was time to leave.

“Well, I need to do the drywall,” Lewis replied. “I’ve never done that before.”

And so they stayed on, toiling in the Houston heat until almost suppertime. There’s satisfaction in hoisting trophies. In winning majors and becoming the best in the world. But Lewis, 33, learned at any early age that it feels just as good – if not better – to give back, whether by writing checks or getting her hands dirty.

PORTLAND, OR - SEPTEMBER 03: Stacy Lewis is presneted with the winner's check on the 18th green after her victory during the final round of the LPGA Cambia Portland Classic at Columbia Edgewater Country Club on September 3, 2017 in Portland, Oregon. Lewis donated all of her winnings to the Hurricane Harvey Houston Relief effort. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Stacy Lewis donated her entire $195,000 winnings from the 2017 LPGA Cambia Portland Classic to the Hurricane Harvey Houston Relief effort. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Teams of 15 people worked in six-hour shifts on the day-long build. Lewis donated her $195,000 paycheck from last year’s Cambia Portland Classic – and KPMG’s matching donation – to SBP but believed this house in particular was being funded with money raised by NFL player J.J. Watt. This marked the 52nd house that SBP has rebuilt in Houston. Lewis’ money will fund 10 homes.

While her peers competed in Portland, Lewis was at home in Houston sorting through baby clothes. Some were new, others were hand-me-downs donated by her two sisters. Lewis, who will deliver a daughter in November, hasn’t watched any golf on TV but she has played, shooting 72-71 last weekend with players from husband Gerrod Chadwell’s Houston team.

“Honestly the hardest part is chipping and putting,” said Lewis, “everything has to get further away from you. It changes the angles a little bit.”

As of now, she aims to return to the LPGA for the new Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions Jan. 17-20 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

In the meantime, she’s enjoying the break. While the LPGA was staging a tournament in Indianapolis, Lewis was cutting a welcome-home ribbon for the Cardenas family. They’d been living with relatives since Harvey left 3 feet of water in their home of 41 years. Because Mr. Cardenas is blind, it was paramount he return to a place where he knows every nook and cranny.

The team of volunteers who worked to rebuild the Cardenas’ house joined Lewis and her family for the homecoming. They were treated to a feast.

“It was the best Mexican food I’ve ever had,” gushed Lewis.

For Carol Lewis, measuring drywall alongside her daughter brought back memories from high school, when the Lewis girls took part in the National Charity League, a mother-daughter philanthropy organization. Together they played bingo at nursing homes, made quilts for the Montgomery County Women’s Shelter and passed out water during races. Any number of community needs were met during that meaningful time.

When Lewis got to the LPGA, she and her mother took an eye-opening trip to Rwanda as part of Betsy King’s Golf Fore Africa charity. The experience was life-changing for Lewis, who became a big supporter of the organization. She also became the first former female student-athlete to donate $100,000 or more to Arkansas athletics.

Lewis’ unbelievable life story played out recently in “Stacy’s Gift,” a 30-minute program that was part of ESPN’s SEC Storied series.

It was difficult for Lewis to watch the first part of the show, which centered around the struggles she faced as a youth with scoliosis, wearing a hard plastic back brace 18 hours a day and then eventual surgery. Memories Lewis has tried to forget.

“I kind of came in and watched the second half,” Lewis said. “It’s something that’s not easy to talk about, and then really to hear what your parents were going through in that time was pretty hard to watch. … You go back to a time when there really was a significant chance that I wasn’t going to play golf again.”

The journey turned out better than Lewis ever could’ve dreamed. And it’s far from over. Gwk

Latest

More Digital Edition
Home