Selva, 68, the PGA director of golf at Orange Hills Country Club in Orange, Conn., began his involvement with Special Olympics at his club in 1989. The Special Olympics Golf movement grew in the early 1990s, with Selva working alongside Rehling and other PGA Professionals to advance a campaign that introduced golf as a demonstration sport in 1995 at the Special Olympics World Games in New Haven, Conn. In 1999, golf was recognized as an official sport of the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and has been contested at each World Summer Games since.
"This is mind-boggling," said Selva, who was emotional during the award presentation ceremony. "I was fortunate to have known Conrad Rehling, and worked with him and many others in making golf a wonderful piece of the Special Olympics movement. Special Olympics is part of why you don't retire."
The number of golf athletes in Special Olympics Connecticut expanded from 22 players when Selva first got involved to more than 230 athletes today. Selva, the 2006 PGA Junior Golf Leader recipient and an inaugural member of the Connecticut PGA Professional Hall of Fame, has served as a Rules Official at three Special Olympics World Summer Games.
Currently, all 52 U.S. Special Olympic Programs offer golf training and competition, with over 17,000 athletes competing. The program also is offered in over 50 countries worldwide.
"I traveled with Conrad Rehling and helped him start programs through several PGA Sections," said Selva. "It is tremendous to see how Special Olympics golf has grown worldwide."
"When I need a practice site regardless of where in the state it might be, I call Frank and within a few days he has something lined up for our athletes. He provides a golf clinic at our Summer Games every year to encourage participation in the sport and then when our season kicks off he is right there to help whether it's to provide a coaches training school or find new practice facilities or equipment. Special Olympics Connecticut is very fortunate to have Frank involved with our golf program. I honestly believe we would not have been so successful with this sport if he wasn't the catalyst to get it started."
"Frank Selva has dedicated his professional life to giving back to the game of golf," said Connecticut PGA President Ralph Salito, PGA head professional at Richter Park Golf Course in Danbury, Conn. "The Conrad Rehling award is an another example of how the true givers are acknowledged and rewarded over time by friends of PGA of America members for their selfless contributions. Awards like this serve as an inspiration to all who care!"