What most people don’t know, however, is that “Mr. 59” achieved all of this while living with ulcerative colitis and, since 1980, with an ostomy.
In 1980, while playing in the Gerald Ford Invitational golf tournament in Colorado, Al’s colon suddenly perforated and he was airlifted to Denver for emergency ostomy surgery. While he felt lucky to be alive, Al feared his golf career was over. He was encouraged, however, to learn from his nurse about Rolf Benirschke who, a year earlier, had gone through a similar set of circumstances but had been able to return to placekicking in the NFL.
After an arranged meeting with Rolf in San Diego several months later, Al decided he wanted to return to golf. He did so with great success, winning 14 more times on the PGA and Champion’s tour with numerous other top ten finishes.
“Over the years, I’ve found that I’m a natural teacher not only with golf, but with giving advice to other ostomates. It’s just one of the things I love to do!” says Al Geiberger
With his return to good health came a strong desire to give back and encourage others. He joined Rolf in the early years of the Great Comebacks® Program to speak out and encourage other ostomy patients who were struggling with life after surgery and to serve as an example that there truly are no limits for patients with an ostomy.
“I put off having surgery for many years, but when I finally had the operation, I was surprised at how easy managing a stoma was and how much more of a full life I could live,” said Al. “Over the years, I’ve found that I’m a natural teacher not only with golf, but with giving advice to other ostomates. It’s just one of the things I love to do!”
“I’m still always up for giving other ostomates tips I’ve learned through the years”
Al, 72, lives in Palm Desert, CA with his wife Carolyn, and plays as much golf as he can. He also enjoys spending time with his six children, Lee Ann, Brian, John, Allen, Katie and Brent who is following in his dad’s footsteps and has won twice on the PGA tour. “I’m still always up for giving other ostomates tips I’ve learned through the years,” said Al. “Serving as a resource for others has been a wonderful experience. I truly feel like one of the lucky ones.”