PGA TOUR pros experience first-hand the benefits of the Arnold Palmer Medical Center's two hospitals
Proceeds from the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard benefit the Arnold Palmer Medical Center, which includes Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies.
This is a well-established fact, and an important one, too, because in the 32 years of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard, significant sums have been raised on behalf of a cause that is as important as anything Arnold Palmer has done in his long, multifaceted and successful career in golf. And when many of the best players on the PGA TOUR and from around the world arrive at Bay Hill Club & Lodge for this year's championship, scheduled for March 21-27, they'll play a part in raising more money for the two Orlando hospitals that have come to mean so much to area families since 1989.
Interestingly, some of these families belong to PGA TOUR players who live in Central Florida. More than 20 TOUR professionals have had children born at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies while others have taken their kids to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children for treatment and care for injuries or illnesses.
Says John Bozard, President of the Arnold Palmer Medical Center: "Because of our partnership with Mr. Palmer, the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard, the PGA TOUR and many other events and organizations, we are affectionately referred to as, 'The hospital that golf built.' However, in addition to their financial support, we also serve the families of professional golfers. When a child is sick or injured, it does not matter what his or her father (or mother) does for a living. What matters is the health and well-being of a child, just like with every family we serve. We are proud that many golfers have welcomed a new baby into the world or turned to us in their child's time of need and the team at Arnold Palmer Medical Center has been here, ready to serve them."
England's Brian Davis, who now lives in Orlando with his wife, Julie, and three children, says he has come to know the people at the Arnold Palmer Medical Center "like members of my family." While his oldest son, Oliver, was born in the United Kingdom, his two youngest children, Henry and Madeline, were born at the Arnold Palmer Medical Center. Each has needed further medical care after birth, and in the case of Madeline, she underwent two operations after a series of problems, including a collapsed lung.
Davis moved to the U.S. after having a chance to compare medical service delivery in his home country and at the APMC, and he admits he could never overstate how important that decision has been. "Our number one priority is the health of our children and making sure they get the proper care," Davis says. "All I can say is that our story is probably not unlike a lot of people who come to Arnold Palmer Hospital. You want the best for your kids, and you are so grateful to be able to put them in such great hands."
D.A. Points, who lives in Ocoee, Florida, couldn't agree more. His wife, Lori, gave birth to their daughter, Laila Jane, last February at Winnie Palmer Hospital and all went smoothly. Together they visited Palmer in December in his office at Bay Hill to present the tournament founder and host with a personal donation for the hospital. Points, too, has seen the hospital work wonders up close. His nephew, Carson Chorney, spent 160 days at Arnold Palmer Hospital being treated for cancer. The 11-year-old is doing much better, and he has even started to hit golf balls with his uncle.
"Both hospitals have played a role in our lives," says Points, who considers Palmer a mentor and friend. "We're fortunate, all of us who live in the area, to have such an amazing place to go when our kids are born or when our kids are sick. The whole organization does so much for everyone who goes there."
"The success of the hospital and the great work that is done there every day has always had great personal meaning to me, and it's something we're all proud to be a part of," Palmer says. "It's been a big part of my life, and it pleases me that so many people have been helped over the years."
Sometimes, help just comes in the form of simple things that bring serenity and peace of mind to an exciting but stressful time: the birth of a child. That's what Charles Howell III says he and his wife, Heather, remember about the care they received when their daughter, Ansley, was born last May.
"Having never gone through the experience before â€“ it was our first child â€“ we had no idea what to expect. They walked us through everything, which was awesome. The delivery rooms were so good â€“ we thought we were at a hotel, a nice hotel. That good. We always had good people around us. For a day like that, especially when it's your first child and it can be kind of a traumatic thing, it was easy. The people there were just great."
Of course, the story would be no different regardless of who walks through the doors. And that includes people who do not have the means to otherwise receive care. But with the help of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard, everyone is treated the same â€“ and treated well. It's fair to say that the tournament proceeds that benefit the Arnold Palmer Medical Center actually benefit the patients.
"I've been there at the hospital when people come in with no insurance, and they look after them and give them the care that they need," Davis says. "Having a relationship with the tournament, being able to play and help raise money means a lot. It helps to keep the hospital afloat, and it's great that we can raise money to help the people who are struggling. But in my mind, the really important people are those at the hospital, especially Dr. (Gregor) Alexander, who is one of the most amazing men I've ever met. He has given his life to the hospital and to kids. It's also amazing that Arnold had the vision to do what he's done on behalf of the hospital."
"How the tournament works in conjunction with the hospital and the benefits it receives... I've always understood it and I always knew it," Howell says. "Now I can say that I've lived it. It's a little different when you go to the hospital and have that first-hand experience of what those people do, the great care that they give to you no matter who you are.
"I've always played the tournament because it was a local event, it's a great event and because of Arnold, but now it has a little different meaning for me because of what they stand for and what they did for me and my family."
For tickets to the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard or for more information, visit the tournament web site, www.arnoldpalmerinvitational.com, or call the Bay Hill Club ticket office at 407-876-7774 or 866-764-4843.