For the sixth year in a row, Century Club Charities has set a record in philanthropy, announcing a $1.3 million donation to Friends of Children’s Hospital from the 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship.
At a news conference Thursday, the tournament host presented a check to Friends, the fundraising organization dedicated to supporting the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s pediatric health care mission, including the state’s only children’s hospital.
“Children’s of Mississippi treats 150 to 175 thousand children per year from every city and county in the state of Mississippi. Today’s $1.3 million contribution is a Mississippi statewide event,” stated Pat Busby, President of Century Club Charities, Inc. “The real winner is not the Sanderson Farms Championship winner, but the patients, their families, and the dedicated doctors, nurses and staff at Children’s of Mississippi who provide miraculous care to the children of Mississippi, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As Sanderson Farms has done so extremely well, we encourage all Mississippi businesses to recognize the statewide effect and get involved to support the mission of Century Club Charities.”
This dedication was honored for a second consecutive year by the PGA TOUR with its “Best Charity Integration” award, which recognizes the tournament that best incorporates its charity and theme into all facets of the event.
Children’s of Mississippi, UMMC’s pediatric arm, is highly visible during the Sanderson Farms Championship, with patients, doctors, and nurses greeting tournament spectators. Likewise, PGA TOUR players and members of the PGA TOUR Wives Association stop in to visit patients and families at Children’s of Mississippi during tournament week.
“It’s really rewarding for the tournament to set another record for our annual donation to Friends and Children’s of Mississippi,” said Sanderson Farms Championship Executive Director Steve Jent. “I’m really excited for our staff, volunteers, sponsors and, more importantly, the patients at Children’s that our first year as a stand-alone event was so successful.”
The record-breaking donation from the 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship follows $1.25 million raised in 2018, $1.2 million raised in 2017, $1.125 million raised in 2016, $1.109 million raised in 2015 and the $1.102 million raised in 2014. The 2013 tournament, the first year Sanderson Farms was the title sponsor, raised more than $500,000 for Friends.
The donation to Friends of Children’s Hospital will go toward bringing a seven-story children’s hospital expansion to completion. In 2016, Friends made a $20 million pledge to the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, the philanthropic effort to raise $100 million to fund the project, which will more than double the square footage devoted to pediatrics at UMMC.
Sanderson Farms CEO and board chairman Joe Sanderson Jr., who chairs the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi with his wife, Kathy, said the tournament will have a stand-alone date on the PGA TOUR schedule again this year, attracting a stronger field of competitors.
“The 2020 Sanderson Farms Championship will be bigger, better, and hopefully cooler,” he said. The tournament will be held at The Country Club of Jackson Sept. 28-Oct. 4.
While the Sandersons enjoy tournament week, the day when Century Club Charities presents its donation to Friends is their favorite. “It’s almost like Christmas,” he said. “It’s when we give back to the children and families, and the doctors, nurses, and staff of the children’s hospital.”
The Sandersons launched the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi in 2016 with a $10 million personal donation.
“The work of so many to help children get a healthy start in life through Children’s of Mississippi is humbling,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.
“We are so thankful for our partners and their generosity,” Woodward said. “Their dedication to pediatric health will benefit children now and into the future. We are honored and grateful to have, as supporters, people who have such a heart for children and families.”
The new pediatric tower will be home to 88 private neonatal intensive care rooms, 12 additional operating rooms, 32 pediatric intensive care rooms, an imaging center designed for children, a specialty clinic and a new lobby. The Children’s Heart Center, representing the Medical Center’s pediatric cardiovascular program, will also call the new building home.
Under construction since early 2018, the Children’s of Mississippi expansion will open in fall 2020.
To join in the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, visit growchildrens.org.
“There are so many people that make a day like today happen. Golf is an individual sport, one guy wins, but he has a huge team behind him just as we have a huge team who puts this tournament together,” added Jent. “It is because of our team – the people, volunteers, and community support that an event of this magnitude has become such a success. It’s exciting to see the impact we are making in our community.”