FAIRFIELD — At 8 years old, Jaden Dumdumaya is a top regional golfer in his age group, but he likes nothing better than defeating adults on the course.
Especially if it’s for a good cause – one that deeply involves his family.
Dumdumaya, who will start third grade at Rolling Hills Elementary on Wednesday, will be auctioned off to the highest-bidding foursome in the Wine Country Classic at Sonoma Golf Club on Monday.
The event, which begins at noon, is a fundraiser for the Hemophilia Foundation of Northern California.
Hemophilia is a genetic bleeding disorder that affects mostly males. Clotting factors in their blood are either missing or don’t work properly, causing them to bleed longer than those who don’t have the condition.
Vohn Dumdumaya, Jaden’s older brother, was diagnosed as having hemophilia at age 7 when he had two teeth removed and his mouth wouldn’t stop bleeding.
It was a shock to Stan and Jenny Dumdumaya, Vohn’s parents, as there was no history of hemophilia in their family.
According to HemopheliaRegion9.org, “About one third of new cases are cause by a spontaneous mutation of the gene, which means there was no history of hemophilia in the family before.”
Having no understanding of hemophilia, Vohn wasn’t overly concerned.
“When my parents reacted more serious, then I knew something was going on,” Vohn said. “They were trying to (understand) the fact that I had a bleeding disorder.
“I reacted to that. I was more scared over how they reacted, because I was only 7.”
Then Vohn got more bad news, news he could understand.
“When the doctor told me I couldn’t play sports, that impacted me,” Vohn said. “It basically put me in a bubble, that’s what really impacted my life.”
However, one sport was OK: golf.
Taught how to play by Stan, an avid golfer since he was a toddler, Vohn rejoiced in having something to keep him active.
“I’ve been playing golf all my life, since I was 2 years old,” Vohn said. “I was playing a lot before I found out. When the doctor said golf was a safe sport to play, I said, ‘Hey, I already play. I might as well keep playing.’ It opened up a lot of things. I became good at it, I met a lot of great people. It was meant to be.”
Vohn excelled, being named Solano County Athletic Conference MVP three times and helped lead the Mustangs to the 2010 Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title.
He was also an eight-time regional champion for the Junior National Championship for Golf, an annual competition for children with bleeding disorders.
“We’re so grateful for golf for the sole reason because it gave my son a new reason for life,” Jenny said. “He shined. He felt he could do anything.”
Vohn, who’s now 22, is about to start his senior year at Sacramento State University where he’s majoring in communications with a minor in business.
When he graduates, Vohn said, “I want to help give back to the community, give back to the people that helped me throughout my whole life, start a movement in the community. I feel I have what it takes to change people’s lives.”
But getting to this point hasn’t been easy. Vohn needs to infuse himself with a clotting factor every other day, a task that was traumatic at first for both mother and son.
“We were both crying,” Jenny said. “My first infusion I had to poke him six times to find his vein.
“Vohn learned (how to do) it at the age of 11. Some learn it at 5 or 7. It’s not like you poke yourself to take a shot, to vaccinate children. With this you have to find your vein.”
The HFNC holds camps each summer to help strengthen the bleeding disorder community with an emphasis on teaching self-infusion to those recently diagnosed or becoming old enough to learn.
The Wine Country Classic helps benefit those camps and is an event dear to the Dumdumaya family.
“It’s kind of like a family tradition,” Vohn said. “There’s more events like this we set aside on our calendars each year. It’s our chance to give back to the community in the best way we can. We love golf and we love people. To be involved in the event is something we like doing every year. We love to be invited.”
“It’s kind of like a big reunion, like a second family,” said Angela, Jaden’s and Vohn’s 20-year-old sister and likewise a proficient golfer. “It means a lot. I get excited, I’m happy to get to see people I haven’t seen and it’s for my brother. . . . It’s nice to be in a community where we all have something in common and we’re there for a purpose.”
According Dawn Pollard, HFNC president, the Dumdumayas have had a big impact on this year’s tournament.
“They have made a significant difference,” Pollard said. “As a couple (Stan and Jenny) are responsible for bringing in a third of the participants. Thanks to them, it’s the first time in years we have a full field. A full field is 144. We actually have 148 and a waiting list.
“Their participation, I think, has changed this event and helped us grow it in such a way that’s so critical to such a small foundation and a disease with a small affected community (about 20,000 in the United States). We’re very grateful for them to be involved. They’ve worked their hearts out.”
Pollard has also been impressed with Vohn and his willingness to speak out in the cause of those with bleeding disorders.
“Some young men prefer to go under the radar, they don’t want to be different than their friends,” Pollard said. “Vohn, on his own, is stepping up to the plate to be a spokesperson for hemophilia, to help those who helped him so much, to increase visibility. It’s all done from the heart for the community that was such a help for him.”
Though, according to his mother, Jaden doesn’t have a full understanding of hemophilia, he’s excited to do his part.
“I want to help my brother because he has hemophilia,” Jaden said. “I want to help him so kids can go to camp.
“It’s fun for me. I play against people, I meet new people and do my best trying to win.”
At a similar event in Lincoln, Jaden out-shot those who bid to have him in their foursome and also won the long-drive competition.
“He tends to show off,” Jenny said with a laugh. “He makes funny moves and they love that. For him it’s just playing golf.”
“His skill is so beyond his years,” Pollard said. “He’s just an 8-year-old boy and he takes his shot, gives it everything he has and then he’s an 8-year-old boy again. It’s so much fun to watch him. We’re all supporters of Jaden.”
And the Dumdumayas are supporters of those who help their son and others with bleeding disorders.
“We are excited that our family, through the help of golf, are able to make a difference in our own special way,” Jenny said. “It’s very empowering.”
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.