American Physician Partners is pleased to share that Chad NeSmith, Physician Provider Liaison, was one of five recipients of the 2018 Champion Within Awards by the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. The recipients were recognized at a luncheon on Saturday, June 16. The Champion Within Program is a community outreach initiative that teaches Tennessee youth the importance of good character and essential life skills through sport. The program focuses on character development, integrity and self-confidence and is designed to help children recognize their full potential and that, even though challenges may arise, they can overcome them and stand a champion.
As a kid, Chad NeSmith didn’t consider golf an athletic sport. In middle school, he was the quarterback of the football team and point guard for the basketball team. Coaches thought he’d be a superstar in high school, and he had dreams of playing for the NFL. Then he learned he’d slowly lose his sight. His vision deteriorated over the next 20 years. Today, he has completely lost his sight to Retinitis Pigmentosa.
Insisting he find a hobby to deal with boredom and depression after his vision was completely gone, his wife Patricia challenged him to try golf. At that point, he met his caddy, coach, and now best friend, Andy Church. After ten years of practice, NeSmith played in his first United States Blind Golf Association event. He is the 2016 and the 2017 United States National Blind Golf Champion. He is also the current holder of the Irish Open Championship.
Knowing how golf helped restore his self-confidence and challenged him to continue to improve his skills, NeSmith, along with some family members, worked to develop a way to channel his success to help others. NeSmith’s organization, AVID – A Vision in Darkness, was formed. Through AVID, they are working to bring the therapeutic power of golf to blind and visually impaired youth. One of AVID’s first efforts is to provide a complete teaching facility on the campus of The Tennessee School for the Blind. They are working to establish a national training academy for children with visual impairments, including junior blind golf tournaments across the country.
NeSmith earned a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees and a doctorate degree. He and his wife, Patricia, ran a counseling clinic for 20 years and he serves as a Physician Provider Liaison for American Physician Partners.