When players showed up at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort in Naples for obligatory COVID testing before the CME Group Tour Championship, they looked like road-weary travelers in the TSA line. While everyone is grateful for the sponsors, staff, volunteers and venues providing opportunities to play, a summer and fall filled with nasal swabs and temperature checks has deadened the eyes of those who traversed that gauntlet.
But the ballroom at the Ritz was different. After their tests, players were treated to unexpected gifts – headcovers from CME Group adorned with art by patients from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
More than one player teared up at the gift. Others couldn’t wait to put the headcovers in play. All agreed to sign an additional cover to be auctioned off to benefit St. Jude.
Throughout the 2020 LPGA Tour season, CME Group supported St. Jude by donating $20,000 for every hole-in-one made in competition. The program is called “Score 1 For St. Jude,” and has seen 14 aces coming into the week.
Danielle Kang was so moved by the success of the program, and some of the comments that came from a St. Jude patient who attended her pre-tournament virtual press conference, that she agreed to donate $1,000 for every birdie she made this week. “I might not make a hole-in-one, but I know I’m going to make some birdies,” Kang said. “Hopefully I can make 20 birdies this week and donate $20,000.”
Two St. Jude patients, Reid and Mary Browder, joined the Golf Channel telecast on Thursday and Friday to talk about their life-saving treatment and the fact that, thanks to donations from generous individuals and corporate angels like CME Group, their families did not have to pay for treatment, lodging or food. St. Jude’s commitment is that families should never receive a bill.
Fans of the LPGA, CME Group Tour Championship and the mission of St. Jude can help with that goal by bidding on the same headcovers the players received. The live auction can be found at www.stjude.org/scoreoneforstjude. The auction will run through midnight Sunday night. As of Friday, donations exceeded $21,000.
“We are extremely proud to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the important work they do in treating children’s cancer,” said Terry Duffy, CME Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Through our CME Group Tour Championship, we donate $20,000 dollars every time an LPGA player makes a Hole in One during the season. However, given the shortened tour schedule this year, we will be donating $500,000 to St. Jude and partnering with the LPGA on other fundraising initiatives to benefit St. Jude during the tournament weekend.”
The PGA Tour ran a similar auction earlier in the season and raised $44,958. Fans of women’s golf should be challenged to meet or exceed that number.
In this season of giving, with all the uncertainty that 2020 has birthed, we shouldn’t forget the 400,000 children worldwide who develop cancer each year. Many come from low- and middle-income families.
“Our collaboration with the LPGA, the CME Group, and other female athletes from around the world, affords St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital the opportunity to raise awareness for its mission and offer once-in-a-lifetime moments to our patient families,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “We invite sports fans to support St. Jude this holiday season by bidding on autographed golf items and other memorabilia in our ‘Score 1 for St. Jude’ auction. Events like this help ensure families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.”