Generous sponsors and benefactors of the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation helped raise a record $2.2 million at The Jake, an annual dinner, auction, and pro-am golf tournament that serves as the Foundation's primary fundraising event. The 10th playing of the event, which took place Feb. 23-24 at The Bear's Club -- the Nicklaus family's home club in Jupiter, Fla. -- topped the previous high of $1.5 million raised in 2012.
"Each year, Jack and I are overwhelmed by the passion and compassion shown by the players and professionals who support The Jake," said Barbara Nicklaus, Chairman of the Board for the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation. "For this year's event to raise over $2 million sends a message about the collective spirit of the participants and how important the efforts of the Foundation are to each of them. We like to say that our mission is to be 'where the children are.' Children are not miniature adults and they require specialized care before, during and after diagnosis.
"This year we again discovered the heart and the heartbeat of the Foundation—and that is the people who continue to believe in and support our mission. To them, we send our heartfelt thanks."
The Jake is named in honor of Jake Walter Nicklaus, the son of Steve and Krista Nicklaus and grandson of Jack and Barbara Nicklaus who passed away in 2005 at the age of 17 months old. Funds from The Jake will be directed to further the mission of the Foundation, which is to provide access to world-class health care for children and support cutting edge programs focused on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of childhood diseases and disorders.
Since 2005, The Jake has contributed $11 million toward the $28 million raised by the Foundation since its inception in 2004.
The support of those participating in The Jake has helped the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation fund the establishment of the Miami Children's Hospital Nicklaus Outpatient Center, which opened in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in November 2012. The 21,500-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility offers rehabilitative services, including speech, occupational, physical and feeding therapy; diagnostics and imaging; after-hours pediatric urgent care; and the rotation of subspecialty physicians.
At the dinner, emceed by Golf Channel's Gary Williams and highlighted by a live and silent auction that raised almost $440,000, Barbara Nicklaus spoke of some of the current and upcoming initiatives of the Foundation. She said that by year's end, they will have 11 pediatric subspecialists on board. And, through a new partnership, they support programs at Jupiter Medical Center and are committed to help the hospital build a Level 2 Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
"As parents and grandparents, we know there is no greater gift than the birth of a healthy child—and we want to make certain all children have the best start in life," Barbara said. "Innovation and collaboration are key elements driving the mission of our Foundation, ensuring all children have access to the healthcare they need."
Another highlight of the event was the presentation of the Golden Heart Award to entrepreneur and philanthropist Todd Wagner. Wagner has committed his personal resources and innovation to bettering the lives of children throughout the country through his own charitable foundation, "The Todd Wagner Foundation." Since 2008, Todd has been a loyal supporter of the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation and Jack and Barbara's efforts to advance pediatric healthcare.
The Golden Heart Award is presented to an individual or individuals with a giving heart who over the years have helped make the dreams of the Foundation a reality. Previous recipients were Dick Chapdelaine, Jack and Cherie Lucks, and Marc and Tracy Bibeau.
Jack Nicklaus participated in the annual tournament, along with pros Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Briny Baird, Andy Bean, Chip Beck, Keegan Bradley, Luke Donald, James Driscoll, Ken Duke, Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler, Morgan Hoffman, Dustin Johnson, Steve Marino, Will MacKenzie, George McNeil, Johnny Miller, Greg Norman, Nicholas Thompson, Cameron Tringale, and Camilo Villegas.
The Jake was won by the team of Camilo Villegas, and amateurs Marc Bibeau, Francois Duquette, Scott Bell, and Raymond McFeetors.