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On Nov. 21, McCall Dempsey was on the sidelines of the RSM Classic golf tournament on Sea Island, Georgia, when a small act of kindness caught her eye.
A young man in a wheelchair and his dad were at the front of the crowd. As Graeme McDowell was crossing the fairway, he paused, walked over and handed the man his glove.
The man, said Dempsey, a mom of two from St. Simons Island, Georgia, was clearly thrilled.
“You’re standing there to wait to cross over the fairway and they let the players go first,” Dempsey said. “Graeme walked over when the ropes were up and handed the boy his glove.
“He definitely went out of his way, big-time.”
Dempsey posted the moment to Instagram using the #ShareKindness hashtag, as part of NBC’s Season of Kindness, a 40-day celebration of kind acts big and small.
The man, 23-year-old Kyler Aubrey from Statesboro, Georgia, let out a “happy squeal,” Dempsey said, and then McDowell ran to catch up with his caddy.
Kyler has cerebral palsy, said his dad, Josh Aubrey. And he is something of a fixture on the PGA tour.
“Ever since Kyler was little, he has enjoyed golf,” said Josh. “I used to strap him into his car seat and play when he was a baby so I guess that’s where it started.”
When Kyler was 6, the family took a trip to Disney World in Orlando. But the real highlight was a visit to The Golf Channel's studio.
The pair travels to several PGA events a year, including the Masters, the Players and other stops around the Southeast.
The pro golfers are a friendly bunch. But the kindest, said Josh, have been the European golfers, and McDowell has led the charge.
McDowell first met Kyler at the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island, South Carolina in 2012. All week, McDowell greeted Kyler each time he passed by. On the last day of the tournament, McDowell was waiting for his friend, Rory McIlroy, to finish the tournament and win. So he chilled with the Aubreys for about an hour.
“He and Kyler hit it off and I was a little surprised and impressed that he talked to Kyler just as he would anyone else,” said Josh, who works as a sportscaster. “Many people talk to Kyler as if he is a baby or at the least as if he isn't very smart.”
As the tournament wound down, McDowell asked Kyler if he’d like to meet McIlroy, who not only spent time chatting with him but autographed a glove and gave him a ball.
Since then, McDowell has introduced Kyler to Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia, all of whom now know him by name.
“They’ve developed quite a bond,” said Josh of McDowell and his son, who often FaceTime off the course.
“I think many times golfers may get labeled as elitist or entitled,” said Josh. “But as far as we are concerned, they are some of the most giving and kind people around.”