When you go to the Honda Classic as a fan, a portion of every ticket you buy, hot dog you eat and ice cold beverage you drink goes to help children in South Florida.
And this year, the tournament is giving a record $5.1 million to local charities. A huge chunk of that record amount is going to a charity lead by golf’s legendary couple.
For decades, golf was the biggest thing in the lives of Jack and Barbara Nicklaus. But now the Golden Bear and his wife have reached their golden years and helping children is now their passion. Today the Honda Classic gave over a million dollars to the Nicklaus Children’s Charities and much of it went to build a state-of-the-art Dental Mobile.
“Golf has been fantastic and the people have been fantastic,” says Jack Nicklaus, while standing outside the new Dental Mobile in Palm Beach Gardens. “It’s kind of a dream come true for Barbara and me.”
Jack and Barbara Nicklaus created the Nicklaus Children’s Foundation 15 years ago as a way of paying it forward after their daughter spent much of the first year of her life needing extra care.
“We didn't know if she was going to make it. The hospital saved her life. We always said if we were ever in a position to help people it would be children, and that's been our mission.”
Much of the proceeds this year are going to a brand new dental mobile. It features two chairs, state-of-the-art equipment and cartoons on the ceiling. Starting this fall, it will travel to local churches schools, giving free dental exams and handling minor surgeries for kids.
“We think when we start in October and we go those under-served communities, it's going to be fabulous,” says Barbara.
Jack has won more major tournaments than anyone else, but now at 79 he doesn’t play much anymore. The game may have brought the couple to where they are today, but helping children is now the work of their lives.
"Golf, as you know, has opened so many doors for us,” adds Barbara. “But we can never give as much as golf has given to us.”
The dental mobile will visit Palm Beach County one day a week this fall and then twice a week after the start of the year. The goal is to help 2500 kids each week.