14:41 PM

Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship tees up help for kids fighting cancer

The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship (NCHC) is a premier stop on the Korn Ferry Tour and a showcase for golf’s rising stars, but its tradition is also rooted in giving back and helping kids.

Since the tournament’s inception in 2007, nearly $14 million has been raised to support pediatric cancer research and treatment at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. That philanthropic mission was on display last week as the 14th annual event was contested August 20-23 at The Ohio State University Golf Club, Scarlet Course and 24-year-old Australian native Curtis Luck earned his first Tour victory.

“This tournament has springboarded so many pros into wonderful, successful careers. At the same time, it also has raised critical funds that have helped children’s health and wellness and directly impacted children being cared for at Nationwide Children’s Hospital,” said John Carter, president of Nationwide Financial and chairman of the board of directors for Champions of the Community, the host organization for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship.

On Tuesday of tournament week, a reimagined version of the annual Pros Fore Patients event took place. Although pandemic protocols didn’t allow for patients to visit the pros for the usual on-course interaction and golf instruction, several Patient Champions sent a “thank you” video greeting to the five pros who gathered to assemble care packages for inpatients at the hospital.

To kick off the first morning of competition on Thursday, 16-year-old Zaven Solomon of Columbus took the ceremonial First Shot to Fight Cancer. His story of resilience and triumph over the disease that struck him just one year ago serves to personalize the purpose of the tournament and offer hope.

The hope for kids like Zaven and countless others is made possible largely by the innovative research and treatment that is being pioneered by physician scientists and researchers at Nationwide Children’s.

Tournament funds have supported research by the Cellular Therapy and Cancer Immunology program that resulted in a key discovery about “natural killer” cells, or NK cells for short. Thanks in part to this funding, researchers are working to find and produce “universal donor” NK cells which would lead to faster treatments without having to wait for a suitable donor.

Advances in genomics, which is considered the instruction manual to the human body, have also been made possible due to NCHC support. The ability to sequence a pediatric cancer patient’s DNA and tumor helps doctors make more precise diagnoses and better determine what medications or chemotherapies will work best to improve a child’s cancer treatment.

While many may know the term Sickle Cell Disease, those fighting the disease receive very little funding for scientific breakthroughs in comparison to other hematologic diseases. Philanthropic gifts to the Comprehensive Sickle Cell and Thalassemia Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital are helping physicians and scientists not only manage the devastating symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease but even help them cure the disease in certain patients.

Last year, Nationwide Children’s saw 1.6 million patient visits representing kids and families from nearly every U.S. state and more than 50 countries. Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship may be a local tournament on a national tour, but its giving is felt globally. To learn more about one of the country’s largest not-for-profit pediatric health care systems, visit NationwideChildrens.org.