Seven-time LPGA winner Brittany Lincicome putted with young Alana.
Six-time NFL Pro bowl selection and Super Bowl champion Marcus Allen chatted up AJ.
Two-time World Series champion Johnny Damon took pictures and signed autographs for Elijah, who wants to be an NFL wide receiver.
Lincicome was one of over 20 celebrities participating in the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational that spent Tuesday morning with the kids at Florida Hospital for Children. In four short years, the tournament, which begins Friday in Orlando, has raised $2.3 million for the hospital.
“Good job, Mama.”
That was Alana’s mom, Natalie, cheering her on while she putted alongside the two- time major champion. Nobody kept score.
Smiles. Laughter. Movement. Fun. That’s what Tuesday’s event was all about.
“It’s nice to see her smile and just in a different environment because it can be chaotic going through all the testing at the hospital,” said mom Natalie. “It’s just nice to see her moving around again.”
It was also about the dollars and the impact. Marla Silliman, the CEO of Florida Hospital for Children, spoke before the event started.
“You see where we are today?” Silliman asked the assembled group of celebrities, media members, patients, doctors and nurses. “This tournament has helped build a new home for these children. Thank you from the bottom of our heart."
Lincicome spent over two hours playing putt-putt with some of the kids and then visited individual rooms at the hospital.
“A lot of the kids have to spend a long time in the hospital and we just wanted to come and put a smile on their face,” said Lincicome. “We all blessed to do what we do as athletes so to come to the hospital for a few hours is super small in the grand scheme of things.”
The event is especially close to Lincicome, who is a Diamond Resorts ambassador.
When Lincicome walked onto the sixth floor of the hospital, she immediately saw Damon and gave him a big hug. The two met ten years ago at a celebrity golf tournament while Damon was still raking up hits in Boston and New York. Damon, an Orlando native, brought presents for the kids and was very engaged the entire appearance.
“I grew up here and I was able to see first-hand the impact that Florida Hospital for Children has on our community," said Damon, who had to spend 10 days at the hospital last year with his mom. "There is so much compassion from the celebrities, the sponsors and the hospital. It has been a tremendous relationship.”
While Damon had a blast, he did admit to maybe needing a few putting tips.
“It was tough, I can definitely take some pointers, one of the young girls took it to me,” said the always-smiling Damon. “It was just important for the kids to get out and hang with us.”
The slick-fielding outfielder spoke highly of Lincicome and the LPGA.
“She’s still doing her thing,” said Damon. “The way these women are playing the game is encouraging because they are really growing the game. The LPGA is definitely on the right track and hopefully they can continue to have success.”
After visiting all the kids, Lincicome left with a smile on her face and an eagerness for the tournament to begin.
“It was great seeing Larry the Cable Guy, my stomach is already hurting from laughter,” said Lincicome. “We play on the LPGA week in and week out, so to come to event like this and play with other athletes and celebrities is really exciting.”
Her final message?
“I just hope they all go home and get healthy soon.”