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Sanford International goes beyond the golf course



Earlier this summer, 10-year-old Ben Wieman was elected as Sanford Childrens ambassador for Sanford International.

His three-year battle with cancer was real. So, too, was the help he received, in part through the fundraising efforts associated with Sanford International presented by the Cambria golf tour.

When his mother Carrie Wieman addressed a crowd on September 8 at the Minnehaha Country Club, she ended her speech like this: Im Carrie Wieman. My mom Bens and my son had cancer.

She attributes the recovery to her son Sanford, she said Bobbie Tibbetts, President of the Sanford Health Foundation. They are so grateful for the care they received and for understanding the role of philanthropy on that journey.

On Bens’s first day in hospital, he told staff he was a big fan of World Wrestling Entertainment. By the time he returned from the blood draw, a Sanford’s child life specialist had decorated his room with professional wrestling characters.

“Carrie talked about how from the first day they checked in and during the three years of treatment, the Sanford patient care team went further,” Tibbetts said. “Most of the children’s life program is funded through philanthropy.”

Which brings us to the way this PGA Tour Champions event brings the community and its causes together.

“The tournament is more than a golf course among some of the best players in the game,” said Tibbetts. “It’s all about promoting well-being, causing community involvement and economic impact in large numbers to nearly $ 20 million a year.”

Birds and return

Unlike any PGA Tour Champions tournament since March, Sanford International this year included current fans on the field watching the players in person.

Those fans were looking for birds, just like football players. Everyone loves birds on a golf tournament, right? In this case, however, there was little more to it.

Sanford Health Foundations Birds Return the program involves giving charity to the performance of the players. If they do well, in other words, the Foundation’s charities do well.

One hundred percent of the money raised through the program goes to the Sanford Foundation to reach out to children and families in the country through Sanford Children and globally through the Sanford World Clinic.

Those interested in giving had the opportunity to mortgage a single sum, or a sum for a bird. Two years ago, tournament players crank 705 birds. In 2019, that number was an unbelievably similar 707.

This year, with 845 birds, the Birdies Give Back program raised nearly $ 100,000 for the children and families Sanford serves worldwide.

We wanted to create a more approachable way for people to get involved in giving to charity, said Sanford Health executive vice president Micah Aberson. The Birdies Give Back program marries the game of golf and charity in a way that allows all interested spectators and fans to make a difference in the lives of children. It channels the energy and excitement of golf and then wanders into philanthropy. “

Building a spirit of philanthropy

Donors had the opportunity to download the tournament app or go online to pledge any amount, starting at one cent per bird.

We wanted to do something that invites people to participate in the philanthropic spirit of the tour, Tibbetts said. It can help introduce children and adults to the notion of charity in a fun way. “

The program gave a boost to the fundraising effort in the tournaments before the players even competed. In this case, he represented the momentum that has been built since the start of the tournament. In the two years prior to this year’s Sanford International, the tournament donated more than $ 250,000 to local charities.

Extension of charity

Two-time US Open winner Andy North, host of Sanford International, has been part of Sanford Health leadership long before the golf tournament was established. He has a unique perspective on what is well known for its capacity to raise funds for professional golf competitions but also has knowledge of the purpose of the Sanford charity.

“He was part of the drive to do what he was doing from the start,” said North. “How do you expand what you were doing?” I was on the Sanford International Board where I helped lead the development of clinics around the world. “

The Sanford International fundraising effort involves more than just the dollars raised or how many birds the players receive. Overall, it is part of a larger effort to highlight the philanthropic impact made on Sanford patients and families.

A not too embarrassing moment

On the afternoon of September 12, Ben had the opportunity to ask questions to golf legends Jack Nicklaus, Tony Jacklin, Hale Irwin and North. The winners of this competition team Jacklin and Irwin in this case had the choice to donate $ 20,000 for Sanford World Clinic or Sanford Children, or are split equally between the two initiatives.

The winning duo ran the award to support Sanford Children, largely because of meeting Ben and understanding the material impact the fundraiser has had on him and his family.

At one point Ben asked the group to describe their most embarrassing moments. Both Nicklaus and North talked about tearing up pants during the course, forcing them to wear rain gear for the rest of the round.

Irwin then addressed Ben directly.

“Let’s put it this way,” Irwin said. “If you are really trying to make a good shot, you should not be ashamed because you are trying. Sometimes in golf it just doesn’t work. If you are trying your best, you should never be ashamed. Always try your best. “

And a very healthy 10-year-old smiled when he heard it. That was what it was all about.

“After hearing Ben’s story through the inclusion of this tour, people understand better that if they give a gift through the Birdies Give Back program, it will affect patients and families just like Ben,” Tibbetts said. “There’s so much gratitude from the Wieman family because dollars make a difference.”

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Posted in Cancer, Children, Community, Foundation, Golf, Sanford International

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