Friends of Children’s Hospital Thursday was the recipient of a check for $1.25 million, as a result of money raised by the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship PGA Tour golf tournament. Those pictured at the presentation include, from left, tournament director Steve Jent, Melanie Morgan (Friends of Children’s Hospital), Guy Giesecke (CEO, Children’s o Mississippi), Dr. LouAnn Woodward (UMMC vice chancellor), Jeff Hubbard (Century Club Charities president), Dr. Mary Taylor, Sanderson Farms CEO Joe F. Sanderson, Jr. , John Wolf (PGA Tour).

Humorist Mark Twain once called the sport of golf “a good walk spoiled.” But it can be more than that.

Take for example the Sanderson Farms Championship, Mississippi’s stop on the PGA Tour, which has meant far more than a walk spoiled to Mississippi children.

Cameron Champ, with the Sanderson Farms Championship champion’s trophy last October.

Last October, on a pleasant Sunday afternoon at Country Club of Jackson, rookie Cameron Champ claimed his first PGA Tour championship and a $792,000 check with a 68 in the final round of the Sanderson Farms Championship.

Three months later, on a chilly, sunny Thursday morning at University of Mississippi Medical Center, there were bigger winners as a result of that golf tournament. That’s because Sanderson Farms Championship tournament officials – along with sponsoring Century Club Charities – presented a check for $1.25 million to Friends of Children’s Hospital.

The gift is earmarked for the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, a philanthropic effort helping to fund construction of a seven-story pediatric tower adjacent to Batson Children’s Hospital. Ground was broken on the project in December, 2017. The tower will house 88 private neonatal intensive care units, 10 addition operating rooms, a pediatric imaging center, an outpatient clinic and a new lobby. The facility also will house the hospital’s pediatric cardiovascular program.

Joe Sanderson, CEO of Sanderson Farms, said the donation – part of the tournament’s $2.235 million donated to Mississippi charities – is the result of a year of hard work.

“We work for 12 months to get to that eight days of the Sanderson Farms Championship,” Sanderson said. “All that work is about today – and for the next 40 years. It’s about the children. It’s about this new pediatric expansion, and the physicians, nurses who will work here and the families and the children who will be cared for here.”

The $1.25 million gift was the tournament’s largest ever to the hospital, topping $1.2 million in 2017.

Batson Children’s Hospital is the state’s only hospital designed and equipped specifically for the care and treatment of sick and injured children.

Since Sanderson Farms became the title sponsor in 2013, the tournament has raised approximately $6.3 million for the children’s hospital.

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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.