The Sanderson Farms Championship, Mississippi’s only PGA TOUR event, once again came through for Mississippi’s only children’s hospital, raising a record $1.109 million dollars from the 2015 tournament, despite heavy rains and adverse conditions. At a press conference today tournament host Century Club Charities presented a check for the proceeds to Friends of Children’s Hospital, the private fundraising organization dedicated to supporting Children’s of Mississippi.
Since tournament host Century Club Charities announced Sanderson Farms as the tournament’s title sponsor in 2013, more than $2.7 has been donated to support Mississippi’s only children’s hospital.
The amount raised during the 2015 tournament, which saw Saturday play cancelled causing the final round to be played on Monday, topped the 2014 tournament proceeds of $1.102 million. In 2013, the first year of Sanderson Farms’ sponsorship, more than $500,000 was raised.
This year’s gift is earmarked for improvements to UMMC’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Century Club Charities President Peter Marks said this year’s gift is part of the tournament’s tradition as well as its future.
“Since 1994, Century Club Charities has worked diligently to promote the game of golf for the benefit of Mississippi charities,” Marks said. “We believe in the future of our state’s children and feel there is no better way to invest in them than by investing in their health.”
Joe F. Sanderson Jr., CEO and board chairman of tournament sponsor Sanderson Farms, sees the tournament’s seven-figure donation as part of being a good corporate citizen.
“The charitable focus of this event is the main reason we became involved with the PGA TOUR as title sponsor of the Sanderson Farms Championship,” Sanderson said. “It’s a corporate responsibility to give back to others in the communities where we live, and being able to make a contribution of this magnitude benefiting an outstanding facility such as Children’s of Mississippi is tremendous.”
Sanderson Farms announced in November its pledge to sponsor the tournament 10 more years, beginning with the 2016 tournament set for Oct. 24-30 at the Country Club of Jackson.
“We believe that it is important, particularly for the charities and for Children’s of Mississippi, to know that we’re going to be here for that period of time,” Sanderson said, “and for the Jackson metro area and the state of Mississippi to know that they can depend on us.”
Sara Ray, board chairman of Friends of Children’s Hospital, said Century Club Charities and the Sanderson Farms Championship have consistently reached beyond expectations. “Their long-term commitment to improving the lives of the children treated at Mississippi’s only children’s hospital is beyond what we had dared let ourselves believe possible. This substantial funding will help Friends continue our mission of meeting the extraordinary needs of the pediatric patients.”
Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, called the donation “an incredible gift to the children of Mississippi,” in particular the state’s smallest babies who grow to health in the NICU.
“Century Club Charities, Sanderson Farms and Friends of Children’s Hospital have proven yet again their commitment to the health of Mississippi’s children with this donation,” she said. “The Sanderson Farms Championship is more than a golf tournament. It is an investment in the future of this state, our children and health care for our youngest citizens. We are deeply thankful to Sanderson Farms and Joe Sanderson Jr. for their dedication to excellence in health care.”
Dr. Renate Savich, professor of pediatrics and chief of the Division of Newborn Medicine at UMMC, knows firsthand the impact this donation will have on the state’s smallest and most vulnerable patients.
“Our NICU takes care of almost 1,000 tiny and very sick babies each year, and it is only with the help of the community and people like Century Club Charities, Sanderson Farms family and Friends of Children’s Hospital that we are able to have the latest equipment at UMMC so we can do what we need to do to save lives and heal these babies.”
Focusing this year’s giving toward the NICU comes as the state’s medical leaders are collaborating to reduce the number of low birth-weight babies in the state.
Home of the state’s only Level IV NICU, which is the highest level of care available for critically ill newborns, UMMC offers care to extremely premature babies with less than 28 weeks’ gestation as well as babies with severe health problems, such as respiratory distress, chromosomal or metabolic disorders, congenital defects or infection.
“The Children’s Hospital is very fortunate to have the support of the Century Club members and Sanderson Farms through this important PGA TOUR event,” said Guy Giesecke, CEO of Children’s of Mississippi, the umbrella organization for Children’s of Mississippi and all pediatric care at UMMC. “The philanthropy support they provide through Friends of Children’s Hospital is helping us to grow our facilities and important programs that benefit all the children of Mississippi.”
Mississippi families are the true winners in the Sanderson Farms Championship, said Dr. Rick Barr, Suzan B. Thames Professor and Chair of Pediatrics at UMMC. “Sanderson Farms, Century Club Charities, and the PGA TOUR are making a real statement in support of healthy children by their sponsorship and the tremendous amount of effort they pour into the tournament each year. At Children’s of Mississippi, our goal is to improve the health of every child in Mississippi. That includes having a fully equipped state of the art children’s hospital and neonatal intensive care unit to serve the health care needs of all our children.”
For Century Club Charities, supporting Friends of Children’s Hospital is the best way for the Sanderson Farms Championship to give back to the state in a meaningful way.
“The business of a PGA TOUR event is to create a charitable impact for the communities in which we live, work and play,” said Steve Jent, the tournament’s executive director. “The staff of the Sanderson Farms Championship works year-round to maximize that impact, and we are truly excited with what we’ve been able to accomplish with the support of Sanderson Farms, Century Club members, all our sponsors, donors and volunteers. 2015 was another banner year for the tournament, and we are already at work to have an even greater year in 2016.”