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Meet All in for CF Scholarship Recipient Kelsey Wessels

This passionate golfer applies lessons she learned on the course to her life with CF 

If there’s one thing that Kelsey Wessels knows about golf, it’s the importance of patient, persistent repetition. Doing the right things, over and over, until they become second nature.

“Hitting a golf ball and overthinking don’t mix,” said Kelsey, 19. 

From the moment she swung her first club, this Cincinnati teen knew she had found her sport. As a high school student, Kelsey systematically dedicated her time and energy to being the best golfer she could be.

That patience and persistence paid off in 2014 when Kelsey was invited to tee off alongside her hero, PGA Tour Pro Jordan Spieth, at the final hole of Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. Kelsey was one of 18 young golfers from The First Tee—a youth development organization dedicated to promoting healthy choices through the game of golf—invited to participate in the event.

“I’d been a fan of Jordan’s for years,” she said. “I was so nervous on the tee with him watching, but it was the best shot I hit all day.”

Kelsey, who was born with cystic fibrosis (CF), also applies the same systematic approach to managing her health.

“Being ‘All In’ means committing yourself to doing everything you can to stay healthy—and for me that’s following my treatment regimen and seeing my doctors,” said Kelsey, whose daily treatment includes pills, nebulized medications and respiratory therapies. “Like golf, staying healthy is hard work—but it’s worth it.”

Now a nursing student at Northern Kentucky University (NKU), Kelsey is among the first class of recipients of Vertex’s All in for CF scholarship. She hopes to one day apply her unique perspective to help others.

“As someone living with CF, I know what it’s like to be a patient,” she said. “Having that experience will help me be a better nurse.”

In addition to making the Dean’s list her freshman year, Kelsey also earned a walk-on spot on the NKU women’s golf team, playing in seven rounds across three events.

In spite of her CF, don’t expect to see Kelsey riding on a golf cart anytime soon.

“I don’t ride—I walk like the rest of the players,” said Kelsey, who didn’t miss a single practice in her freshman season. “It keeps me healthy.”

Kelsey has three main focuses heading into her sophomore year—staying on the Dean’s list, improving her golf game and maintaining her health.

“CF is a lot like golf,” said Kelsey. “Birdies are great, but it’s learning to play with bogeys that makes you a success.”

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