13:58 PM

Nationwide Children’s Hospital Legends Luncheon honors Nicklaus Youth Spirit Award recipient; raises $1.4 million for Nationwide Children’s Hospital

The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide hosted the ninth annual Legends Luncheon, the award-winning fundraiser that brings to life the alliance between the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

The Luncheon supports pediatric care and research advances throughout the areas of need at Nationwide Children’s. This event raised a record $1,400,000 for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and Nationwide Children’s alliance. The 2019 amount is the largest single-year donation in the event’s history and brought the Luncheon’s nine-year total to $7,850,000. All proceeds of the Legends Luncheon directly benefit the young patients and families that Nationwide Children’s compassionately serves each day.

“Over the years, support from Nationwide and the Nationwide Foundation has played a significant role in Nationwide Children’s Hospital becoming a destination not only for patients from around the world, but for some of the most renowned physicians and scientists in the field of pediatric research and health care,” said Steve Rasmussen, chief executive officer of Nationwide. “Nationwide’s Sports Marketing platforms have raised more than $33 million for the hospital since 2011 while The Nationwide Foundation has gifted more than $100 million to the hospital since 2006. Together, we’re seeking new ways to raise the hospital’s national profile and to support research that promotes the health and wellness of children across the country.”

A highlight of the Legends Luncheon was the announcement of the Nicklaus Youth Spirit Award. The annual award is presented to a patient or family who has demonstrated a strong, driving spirit in overcoming obstacles, an unwavering optimistic outlook, and a strong conviction for their connection to Nationwide Children’s. 

This year, Jack and Barbara Nicklaus presented the Nicklaus Youth Spirit Award to Nationwide Children’s patient Matthew McClish, 18, from Galloway, Ohio. Matthew began his inspiring journey in second grade, when he had the first of what would be many seizures. He was 11-years-old when he was diagnosed with epilepsy and a brain tumor was revealed as the cause of these episodes.

Matthew endured multiple major brain surgeries over the next few years. Despite the physical setbacks, his heart was full of love and passion for the game of golf. With hard work and dedication to the sport, Matthew was able to battle through his illness and competed in districts his sophomore year. As a junior he was named a first team all-county golfer.

In the fall of his junior year, Matthew underwent what would be his final brain surgery. When he woke from the procedure, he was paralyzed on the left side of his body and had impaired vision. Doctors confirmed the devastating cause for his symptoms – a stroke.

During the next seven weeks as an inpatient at Nationwide Children’s, Matthew spent an average of 10 hours a day, six days a week doing rehabilitation. His care team brought him a putter to lift his spirits, and Matthew would hit putts while three nurses held him up.

“It brought some relief, being able to do what I love,” said Matthew. 

When Matthew finally returned home he was still unable to use the left side of his body. Despite the odds, he made the decision to relearn the game of golf one-handed. Determined, he began spending hours and hours practicing at a golf simulator. After a few months he finally felt comfortable with his right hand only swing and was able to return to play on his high school golf team for his senior season.

Matthew can no longer drive, go for a run or play the saxophone. He must wear a brace on his leg at all times, but his story is still being written, one swing at a time.

“I want people to be inspired that there’s nothing impossible, nothing that you can’t overcome,” said Matthew.

True to the hearts of Jack and Barbara Nicklaus, the Memorial Tournament’s primary objective includes a genuine, philanthropic vision. It is through the Tournament’s partnership with Nationwide Children’s that this vision comes to life in the form of pediatric care for children from all 50 states and more than 50 countries each year.

Nationwide, proud sponsor of the Tournament, shares a similar tradition of support for Nationwide Children’s. Nationwide is committed to broadening the impact of its sponsorship of the Memorial Tournament to bring greater awareness and increased funding to Nationwide Children’s and to those who benefit the most – families and children in need of care.