Meet Lanier Weed, the 24-year-old nonverbal autistic daughter of renowned golf course architect Bobby Weed. Despite her autism, Lanier has a burning ambition that surpasses any limitation. Her father notes that she “has a lot of dreams she would want to achieve” and is an incredible young lady.
Lanier’s Dad, Bobby Weed, is a renowned golf course architect who grew up in South Carolina. As a child, Bobby showed his entrepreneurial spirit by convincing his father to transform their family’s bean field into a driving range. Later, Bobby Weed was taken under the wing of Pete Dye, one of the biggest names in modern golf course architecture. Bobby went on to intern with Dye, allowing Bobby to hone his craft further and gain invaluable experience.
Bobby grew so close to Dye and his wife, Alice, that the couple called him a family member. Bobby was like a son to them and had become an integral member of the Dye household. Seventeen years later, Bobby Weed moved on to work for the PGA Tour as an in-house architect, designing and building some of their most influential courses.
His latest project, Grove XXIII in Hobe Sound, is a stunning course owned by Michael Jordan that even has drone-served refreshments! During his career, Bobby Weed met Leslie, his future wife. Through mutual acquaintances, they arranged a blind date to play golf in the Jacksonville area. Unsurprisingly, it was a pleasant experience that eventually resulted in marriage for the couple.
The welcoming of Lanier Weed
The two have since taken their relationship to new heights and welcomed three daughters. Everything in life seemed perfect for the Weed family until 18-month-old Lanier, their youngest daughter, was diagnosed with severe nonverbal autism. The news brought the Weeds into a crisis as they had to adjust and readjust their expectations and beliefs about life to accommodate their new circumstances.
“I couldn’t take Lanier out in public very often,” Leslie said. “She couldn’t stand bright lights and loud noises, so going to the grocery store was inconsiderable. She would get overwhelmed in crowded places and have a meltdown.”
With the two other daughters helping around the house, Leslie and Bobby Weed devoted their attention to researching Autism. Their hard work paid off in the form of a foundation, Helping Enrich Autistic Lives (HEAL). This organization has enabled them to raise money for summer camps, art museums and music classes tailored specifically for children with autism.
In 2013, Lanier underwent facilitated communication therapy, which utilizes modern technology to help nonverbal autistic individuals express themselves. This technique involves a facilitator providing physical guidance to the individual as they spell words on a keyboard or other device.
As per raisingchildren.net.au, this therapy is an invaluable tool for nonverbal autistic individuals as it allows them to communicate their thoughts and feelings like never before. The Weeds have since seen great results in Lanier, now a happy and vibrant child. It’s not only Lanier who has benefitted from the Weeds’ work – the starting of HEAL.
Through their organization, Helping Enrich Autistic Lives (HEAL), they have assisted more than 30 non-verbal autistic children in the Jacksonville area. HEAL provides facilitated communication therapy training for teachers, enabling them to give other families of autistic children the information, resources and support they didn’t have access to before. The Weeds continue their work to ensure that families of autistic children receive the help they need.
The story of Bobby and Leslie Weed isn’t only about their success in golf course architecture but rather an inspiring story of triumph over what could have been overwhelming circumstances. The dedication drives them forward to ensure every family has access to resources, support and communication therapy that can improve lives.