Upon arriving in Memphis, PGA Tour professional golfer Collin Morikawa made a special stop to meet with five patients from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®, some of whom are talented golfers. Morikawa’s generosity provided a unique opportunity for St. Jude kids learn from one of the sport’s best ahead of his 2022 FedEx appearance St. Jude Championship, August 10-14, where 125 of the world’s best PGA Tour golfers competed for the FedEx Cup trophy.
During the St. Jude Golf in the Park event on August 8, skill levels varied as much as patient ages, but a special St. Jude patient, 8-year-old Azalea, came in well below average in the most competitive category. When Azalea, who was treated for rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue cancer, struggled to find all the power she needed to drive the ball like Morikawa – her competitive side kicked in and kicked Morikawa for a new challenge, a dance competition. Morikawa, who hasn’t missed a beat or a putt all day, rose to the challenge and even promised a second dance contest when he next visits Memphis.
The well-formed group of St. Jude the children provided plenty of entertainment and putting and chipping competitions. But with the dance competition taking center stage, St. Jude patient Reynaldo, 18, could be a challenge next time around. A video dance celebration was her creative way to mark her last day of chemotherapy. Reynaldo studied choreography and participated in dance groups in his native Puerto Rico before being diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma. That day, he was impressed by the joy on his face upon seeing and hearing the power of Morikawa’s mighty drive.
Additionally, several St. Jude the patients who participated in the session are excellent golfers, including Cross, 18, a two-time cancer survivor who later competed in the Pro Am, along with PGA Tour golfer JJ Spaun and recently accepted a scholarship from golf at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri. St. Jude also in attendance was patient Dakota, 16, who scored his first hole-in-one just two years ago and only a few months into treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, while Bailey, 17, who was treated for osteosarcoma, a bone tumor, is not only a golf fan, but his artwork adorns the custom FootJoy shoes that were worn by nearly 30 athletes during the 2019 PGA Tour stop in Memphis. This year’s FedEx St. Jude Championship winner Will Zalatoris wore the FootJoy 2022 Patient Shoes as he scored a dramatic playoff victory at TPC Southwind.
FedEx St. Jude The championship is one of many special events held throughout the year to benefit the rescue mission of St. Jude: Find cures. Save children.® Because of events like this and generous donors, families never get a bill for St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food so they can focus on their child’s life.
For more information and images, visit stjude.org/pgatour.