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PGA TOUR players join forces in "Arnie's March Against Children's Cancer"

March 20, 2013

By Doug Milne, PGA TOUR Staff

It’s the small footprints which leave the most indelible mark. Representative of hope, a child’s step serves as life’s greatest anticipation for tomorrow. Zeus, Father of the Olympian Immortals, once said, “How simple the child.”

In the arena of golf, Arnold Palmer has left a mark well chronicled in the lines of history books. How simply he became known as “The King.” But the footprints he’s leaving on the much grander stage of life are told only by the lines on his face.  The shoes no one could ever fill are also the shoes he discourages attention from. The shoes in his mind’s eye may be smaller in size, but are the ones to which he’s devoted his life. They are the ones where life blossoms. They are the ones of the children. 

On Tuesday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, PGA TOUR players, their wives and members of the Orlando community gathered to walk a mile or so in- and for- those shoes.

In conjunction with the PGA TOUR Wives Association, it was called “Arnie’s March Against Children’s Cancer.” The goal of the inaugural walk, which began at the eighth hole at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge, wasn’t just to raise money for the Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital, but also awareness of an affliction which affects millions of young lives every year. Sometimes, footprints are stopped short, but so many other times, they meander on.

“Mr. Palmer has been a great ambassador, not just to golf, but with his devotion to children,” said two-time PGA TOUR winner Jason Dufner. “What he has done on the golf course is incredible, but what he has done off the course for children is immeasurable.“

Being a first-year endeavor, the goal was a modest one of raising $25,000 through pledges on the event’s website, arniesmarch.com. With the event coming together nearly last minute, the expected turnout was anyone’s guess. On neither front could anyone have imagined. Hundreds showed and nearly $50,000 had been raised by Tuesday.

“This march is just a beautiful tie-in with someone as remarkable as Mr. Palmer,” said Kimberly Gay, wife of PGA TOUR veteran Brian Gay. “It’s not just to raise money and awareness locally, but around the world.”
In the midst of its 25-year anniversary, the PGA TOUR Wives Association may acknowledge pruning efforts, but give full credit to the day’s success to the budding flowers, the hope inherent in the life of a child.

“The love here is incredible,” said PGA TOUR Wives Association President Amy Wilson, wife of five-time TOUR winner Mark Wilson. “We are thrilled to lend our support and the lessons learned to make it as wonderful as can be. But really, it has been this community, the Palmer family, the fans and the hospital. The stories of these young children with life-threatening issues is what makes this successful.”

The stories are ones of strength, conviction and courage. They are stories of leaving a mark and making every step count. How simple the child, indeed.

“Something beautiful is happening in this community,” Amy Wilson said. “It’s an honor to be here today with this community and the families and children. It makes our life more full. We are honored to be here to celebrate life with these families.”

“This is something that has always been close to us,” said PGA TOUR member and Orlando resident, Brian Davis. “Mr. Palmer has done so much for golf and this community. An event like today gives more to the tournament, more exposure to - and awareness of, the hospital. Different times bring the need for different things. Many families cannot pay for a lot of this themselves. That is where we want to help.”

“I can’t tell you how important it is to continue to work and to support and to create new things for the hospital,” said tournament host and World Golf Hall of Fame Member Arnold Palmer. “We’ve got a good pace going, but we need to keep it going. I think something like this today is another way to get expression to the hospital and what is happening there.”

“Arnold Palmer is a great role model for us younger guys,” added Dufner. “Sure, we’re out here to become the best players we can become, but every one of us also wants to give back and follow in his footprints.”
But to do so, Mr. Palmer would stress, one must first make sure they’ve got the right footprints in mind.

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