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Canada: Faculty, graduates and businesses join forces to help KPU student

Two days after purchasing their new Abbotsford home in March, Agathe Savard’s husband was suddenly struck and paralyzed by Guillain-Barré syndrome.

The disease – the effects of which are generally reversible with years of rehabilitation – had Andrew Tippett in G. F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre for several months before being able to return to his new home last Friday.

For his homecoming, Savard – a fourth-year information technology student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) – reached out to KPU’s school of horticulture for advice on how to transform her front lawn into a putting green where Tippett could regain strength by practicing the game he loves.

Moved by the young couple's situation, KPU turf management instructor Stan Kazymerchyk enlisted the help of local businesses and horticulture graduates to make the request a reality.

"When I contacted the Kwantlen school of horticulture for advice on building a putting green for my ill husband, Andrew, I never dreamed it would turn into such a wonderful experience. Being a student at Kwantlen, I knew that we had top instructors, but this time, they went above and beyond the call of duty,” Savard said.

Kazymerchyk started with securing the necessary materials, which resulted in overwhelming community support. KPU donated the green’s irrigation system, lent tools and a truck for the day and bought pizza for the crew. Peter Szarka of Redwoods Golf Course donated his manual greensmower; Spencer Grundy of Agrium covered the soil test and fertilizer; Glen Kitsul with Poppy Estate Golf Course chipped in rootzone; Bert Bos of Bos Sod Farms donated the bentgrass sod, and; Patrick Kerr from Summerland Golf & Country Club gave the cup-cutter and cups used to place several holes on the green.

The next step was transforming Savard and Tippett's 550 square foot yard (just over 50 square metres) into a surprise putting ground before Tippett returned home.

Helping Kazymerchyk last Friday were KPU turf management graduates Kelsey Stewart, Glen Atamanik and Spencer Grundy; horticulture instructor Ron Marchuk; IET instructor Mohamed Sheriff; Peter Szarka, superintendent of Redwoods Golf Course, and; friends and family of the young couple.

“From the project management aspect and coordination of various resources to the human aspect, ensuring that Andrew would be comfortable on the big day for the 'reveal', Stan and his crew of volunteers really did an exceptional job. They understood the passion for golf that my husband has and demonstrated the same passion for their trade which resulted in the delivery of a phenomenal putting green,” said Savard.

After nine hours of relocating sod, installing paver paths and a new irrigation system, amending and leveling the rootzone and laying the putting green sod, the renovation was complete.

"Words cannot express my gratitude and admiration for the work that the volunteers from Kwantlen University did for our son Andrew on June 20. What a remarkable act of kindness and such a professional job they did in laying a great putting green,” said father Rick Tippett.

"This installation will allow my hubby to keep active while recovering at home and continue playing the sport that he loves so much. Kwantlen University will forever be part of our lives, not only as my graduating institution but also as the great group of people who stepped up and became part of Andrew's road to recovery. 'Thank you' just doesn't seem to quantify our gratitude,” Savard said.

Photos from last Friday are available on KPU’s Flickr page.

Comments from the volunteers, friends and family of Andrew Tippett are available here.

For more information about KPU’s school of horticulture, visit:, or come to an information session at KPU Langley on July 15 at 6:30 p.m. (information on website).

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