$1 Million Commitment from Golf Channel, JetBlue Airlines and Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge to Help Central Florida’s Miracle Babies
Donation Helps Winnie Palmer Hospital Add 30 Beds for Care of Fragile, Premature Infants
ORLANDO, Fla (September 12, 2013) – JetBlue Airways, Golf Channel, and Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge have teamed up to raise $1 million over the next five years to help save the lives of Central Florida’s tiniest babies.
The three organizations played an integral role in helping to inaugurate the Champions for Arnold’s Kids – Latrobe Classic – a unique event hosted by golf legend Arnold Palmer at his home course in Latrobe, Pennsylvania on September 9, 2013.
The Latrobe Classic began with a charter flight provided by JetBlue Airways from Orlando to Latrobe, where Palmer welcomed participants to play an exciting round of golf organized by Golf Channel at the Latrobe Country Club. In its inaugural year, the event raised more than $200,000, and following the golf, Dave Barger, chief executive officer of JetBlue Airways, and Mike McCarley, president of Golf Channel announced the commitment by the three organizations to raise $1 million over the next five years to help expand the neonatal intensive care unit at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies.
“It is amazing to see the work that takes place within the NICU at Winnie Palmer Hospital,” said Barger. “We are honored to be part of the Latrobe Classic and associated with Arnold Palmer and impact the lives of so many families who are cared for by Arnold Palmer Medical Center.”
“Over the years, the Palmer name has become as synonymous with quality care of women and children as it is with golf,” said McCarley. “We’re proud to be a part of the Latrobe Classic and help build an event that furthers Arnold Palmer’s legacy of caring and compassion.”
Along with the announcement, Palmer hosted an awards reception coordinated and managed by the Bay Hill Club & Lodge for the 120 people who took the early-morning JetBlue charter flight to Latrobe.
“Mr. Palmer has made an indelible mark here in Central Florida through events like the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard,” said Ray Easler, Vice President of Hospitality and Operations for Arnold Palmer Companies. “The Latrobe Classic continues to build on his legacy of ensuring that women and children throughout Central Florida receive the best healthcare.”
Palmer’s passion for women’s and children’s health is especially evident in the Alexander Center for Neonatology, a 112-bed neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) dedicated to treating the smallest and most fragile babies born at Winnie Palmer Hospital – the hospital that bears the name of Mr. Palmer’s late wife. The NICU is currently undergoing a $13-million expansion that will add 30 beds, making it the largest in the country.
John Bozard, president of the Arnold Palmer Medical Center Foundation, knows relationships with organizations like JetBlue Airways, Golf Channel, and Bay Hill Club & Lodge are critical to the continued success of the hospitals. Bozard recalled “when Arnold Palmer first visited the NICU, it was a small room with about six beds, and he said ‘we can do better.’ That has stayed with everyone at Arnold Palmer Medical Center to this day and we are glad to have these three great organizations join us as we extend that commitment to do more for our kids and their families, and continue to do better.”
At the conclusion of the Latrobe Classic awards reception, Barger, McCarley, and Easler presented a $1,000,000 check to Arnold Palmer as a sign of their organizations’ commitment through the Latrobe Classic.