Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship tees up funds, awareness for fight against pediatric cancer
The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship is a best-in-class Korn Ferry Tour Finals event where players compete to earn their PGA TOUR card, but it is also a platform for an important philanthropic purpose.
Since the tournament’s inception in 2007 with Nationwide as a founding partner, more than $22.3 million has been raised through the 2022 event to support pediatric cancer treatment and research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. That charitable mission was on display the week of September 18 as the 17th annual event was played at The Ohio State University Golf Club, Scarlet Course where 24-year-old Norman Xiong took home the championship trophy and assured his PGA TOUR membership for 2024.
“This premier tournament has always been a showcase for some of golf’s rising stars, but its tradition is also rooted in helping kids,” said John Carter, president of Nationwide Financial and chairman of the tournament’s host organization, Champions of the Community. “The fundraising to enable cutting-edge research and innovation at Nationwide Children’s is a critically important aspect of this tournament, but we’re also honored by the opportunity to include Patient Champions from the hospital in several events during the week.”
The annual Pros Fore Patients paired Patient Champions with Tour professionals for on-course golf instruction, games, and assembly of care packages for current patients at Nationwide Children’s. Select Patient Champions also participated as Honorary Observers on Sunday, walking with the final professional pairings of the tournament and waving to fans as they were recognized by the 18-hole announcer.
Additional ceremonies bookended the competition with the First Shot to Fight Cancer opening the first round of play and the Last Putt to Cure Cancer closing the tournament, both shots taken by 16-year-old Patient Champion Reid Zupanc of Delaware, Ohio. Reid was also awarded a $10,000 college scholarship by Nationwide following his ceremonial tee shot.
Eight-year-old Aiden Fulton, who was diagnosed with leukemia at two years old, was one of the Patient Champions who took part in tournament-week events. As Aiden was practicing his drive and putting with Tour professionals during Pros Fore Patients, his mother Kat said, “All the hard days are behind us, and he gets to just do the things that he missed out on for so many years.”
Lasting relationships and bonds are formed during the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. During the week, Aiden also had the opportunity to catch up with Tour professional Camilo Villegas, whom he met at the tournament in 2021. The two have kept in touch and were able to enjoy time together on the putting green after the conclusion of Pros Fore Patients.
Nationwide Children’s receives more than 1.7 million patient visits annually and cares for kids and families from every U.S. state and more than 46 countries. To learn more about one of the country’s largest not-for-profit free-standing pediatric academic medical centers, visit NationwideChildrens.org.