By Abby Liebenthal, AJGA Communications
The lights gleamed low as eight juniors and their families, along with friends of the AJGA, anxiously awaited a special guest. After minutes of chatter and greetings, a hush spread across the room and all eyes looked to the door.
Jack Nicklaus and his wife Barbara entered the room, filling it with a sense of awe and admiration. The juniors looked to their families and friends, their faces illustrating the appreciation for the Nicklaus’ visit.
In conjunction with the Polo Golf Junior Classic, Jack Nicklaus hosted a VIP reception for the top eight fundraising juniors for CureSearch for Children’s Cancer through the Nicklaus Children’s Healthcare Foundation. These eight juniors, representing the Leadership Links program, raised $30,000, which is 23 percent of the $130,000 total amount fundraised by participants. Half of these proceeds went to the Foundation, and the residual amount went to the AJGA ACE Grant.
As Jack posed for photos and signed autographs for the juniors, he spent a few moments thanking them for their fundraising efforts. He poked jokes and laughed with the families about the game of golf, giving each junior an intimate experience that will remain with them forever.
After meeting the juniors, Jack and Barbara addressed the group to share their experiences with spearheading philanthropic efforts. As they shared their encouraging words, stories were told about the importance of family, helping others who are less fortunate and staying true to oneself.
Jack then offered a question-and-answer session, resulting in the juniors looking at one another, timid to propose the first. With a little encouragement from Jack, one of the young men asked the first question: ‘How do I get better at golf?’
Laughter ensued as Jack and Barbara answered questions together about their experiences with golf and fundraising. They praised the juniors for beginning their efforts at a young age, which will only continue to grow with time.
Capping off the special evening, Jack presented each of the juniors with awards for their charitable efforts. As the group came together for a final photo, the smiles painted on their faces symbolized the honor and gratitude amongst all.
These eight juniors will forever remember the evening spent with the great Jack Nicklaus, as they carry on their philanthropic efforts and continue their golf careers.