Kenny Bontz's pain-filled journey to his golf dream

Bontz overcame diabetes, cancer, addiction and amputation
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Posted at 1:35 PM, Jul 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-26 19:22:32-04

BRADENTON, Fla. — Kenny Bontz is driven to be the best on the golf course. He faced tremendous obstacles throughout his life and conquered them all.

Nearly 20 years ago, Bontz was taking drugs each day to numb the pain.

“At that point, I got addicted to opioids. I was doing about 64,000 milligrams of Vicodin a day, amongst other things, drinking a lot,” he said.

After that?

“My next step was probably heroin,” Bontz told ABC Action News sports anchor Kyle Burger. “The way I pushed things back then, I would’ve been dead very soon.”

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Instead, Bontz knew the only way to live was to remove the source of the pain.

“That’s when I decided to get my life back,” Bontz said. “I cut my leg off. That was my rehab. It will be 19 years in August.”

At 11 years old, Bontz started his uphill battle when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. At 19, he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in his lower leg, which is a rare type of cancerous tumor that grows in the bone.

In the next nine years, the pain was so bad he had six surgeries. The more surgeries, the more pills to mask the pain. Finally, the only way out was amputation.

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“I’ve learned a lot of patience with what I have,” he said. “I’m proud of myself because I’ve never gone back to the pills, and I never will.”

Some may say Bontz was dealt a bad hand in life. But he would argue that the hand he was dealt made him who he is today.

“There’s a lot of amputees; there’s a lot of people in this field that have been dealt horrible hands of cards," he said. “Then they turn to golf, and it gets them through everything. It’s amazing.”

Bontz had become a four-time national amputee golf champion, including winning three titles in a row from 2017-19.

At 52 years old, his dream is to become the first amputee to play on the PGA Champions Tour.

With what he’s been through, don’t count him out. His inspiration is tattooed on his left forearm.

“What doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger. I read it every day.”

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