A Key Focus for the Philanthropy of Golf Legend Jack Nicklaus: Children's Health Care

The first day of spring, on its 65th anniversary, Miami Children's Hospital became Nicklaus Children's Hospital (NCH) after a $60 million pledge from the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation.

The hospital’s eight outpatient centers also took on the Nicklaus name. NCH is South Florida’s only specialty hospital dedicated exclusively to treating children, “We are deeply honored that our name will be associated with a health care organization that so many know and trust throughout the world,” said Jack and Barbara Nicklaus in a joint statement. “Children are our region’s most precious and vulnerable resource. We have heeded a call to make a difference for all children in need and have found a worthy partner in Miami Children’s Health System. The organization shares our passion and commitment to care excellence.”

In addition to their own gift, the Nicklauses also agreed to serve as co-chairs of the Together for the Children Campaign, aimed at raising $150 million for the hospital. The money is earmarked for major physical improvements to NCH including augmenting the emergency department and building a 212,000-square-foot advanced pediatric care pavilion which will include three family-centered intensive care units.

Jack Nicklaus and his wife Barbara have a long time personal interest in children's health, having five of their own and 22 grandchildren. The foundation’s major annual fundraising golf tournament, which raised $2 million earlier this year, is named The Jake to honor a Nicklaus grandchild, Jake Nicklaus, who drowned in a hot tub at the age of 17 months.

The Nicklauses started their foundation in 2004 to support children's health services in Palm Beach County and beyond. When raising their own children nearby, they came to realize that there wasn’t a local medical center to help children with complex health issues. For the past five years, the foundation helped bring top-notch health care to the children of the county through its support of the local Miami Children's Hospital outpatient center. The foundation also has a major role in funding efforts to diagnose, prevent and treat childhood diseases.

Nicklaus won 18 major golf tournaments and is a five-time PGA Player of the Year, so he’s used to being feted. However, he will always remember an emotional ceremony on March 24th in the United States capitol rotunda attended by his entire family, during which he received the highest honor Congress can bestow, a Congressional Gold Medal. The inscription read: “Excellence in sport, promoting integrity and sportsmanship, and dedication to philanthropy and children’s health care, with a lifelong commitment to family.”