Courtesy of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
MEMPHIS, TN. –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 to learn from one of the sport’s best ahead of his appearance at the 2022 FedEx St. Jude Championship, Aug. 10-14, where 125 of the PGA’s top golfers Tour competed for the FedEx Cup trophy.
At the Aug. 8 St. Jude Golf in the Park event, skill levels varied as much as patient ages, but one special St. Jude patient, 8-year-old Azalea, ranked well below normal 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-rounded group of St. Jude kids 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 patients who participated in the session are excellent golfers, including Cross, 18, a two-time cancer survivor who later competed in Pro Am with PGA Tour golfer JJ Spaun and recently accepted a golf scholarship to Rockhurst University. in Kansas City, Mo.
St. Jude patient Dakota, 16, who scored his first hole-in-one just two years ago and only months away from treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia was also in attendance, while Bailey, 17, who was treated for osteosarcoma, a bone tumor, is not just a golf fan, but his artwork adorns custom FootJoy shoes that were worn by nearly 30 athletes during the PGA Tour stoppage 2019 in Memphis.
This year’s FedEx St. Jude Championship winner, Will Zalatoris, wore the FootJoy 2022 Patient Shoes as he scored a dramatic playoff win at TPC Southwind.
The FedEx St. Jude Championship is one of many special events held throughout the year to benefit St. Jude’s vital mission: finding cures. Save children. Due to events like this and generous donors, families never receive a bill from 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.