BUFFALO, NY- Whether it's driving, chipping or putting, at just 14-years-old, Dawson Miller of East Amherst excels on the golf course. But it's his determination and perseverance off the course that helped him win a national contest and a trip to the PGA Tour.
Dawson was introduced to the game of golf at 8-years-old, started playing golf competitively when he was 10-years-old, and says he's been loving it ever since.
"I caddy for him now. He beat me when he was 11. And it was that point that I said it's his turn," said Dawson's dad, Dan Miller.
Dawson embraced golf because it's one of the only sports he's allowed to play since he has hemophilia, a genetic blood disorder.
"I've had a couple injuries that took me out of golf for a little bit, but I've overcome it and I know how to treat myself," said Dawson.
As a part of the First Tee of Western New York, Dawson has impressed his coaches and inspired and empowered other kids with his perseverance.
"As a mentor to other kids that are dealing with the same issues, he is a great example of what we have at the First Tee," said Tim Frank, Executive Director of the First Tee of WNY.
Dawson's determination on and off the course helped him become one of four national first-prize winners of the First Tee's "Succeeding Together" essay contest, earning a trip to the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, NC, last month.
"I couldn't believe that I won honestly," said Dawson.
He learned some valuable lessons as he followed pro-golfers Jason Day and Paul Casey from inside the ropes.
"Short game is key, they're insanely good at it," said Dawson. "Making par on those really hard holes is just a motivation to me to keep playing and keep getting better at the game, because I know that I'm able to get to that point."
Dawson says that's a lesson in life, too. If you find yourself in a bunker, you can still find your way out, sink a putt and make par.
Dawson, who's all time low score is a 78, plans to play golf at Williamsville East High School next year.
The First Tee of Western New York allows kids of all ages and backgrounds to be introduced to golf and the life skills that go with it. The organization reached 4,000 kids in Western New York last year and plans to double that number this year. For more information on the First Tee program, click here.
To nominate a child who you think should be featured as a "Great Kid" on Channel 2, e-mail Melissa.Holmes@wgrz.com or call 716-879-2216.