High School Golfer Wins Nicklaus Youth Spirit Award

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The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide hosted the ninth annual Legends Luncheon presented by Safelite AutoGlass today, a unique, award-winning fundraiser that brings to life the alliance between the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. All proceeds of the Legends Luncheon directly benefit the young patients and families that Nationwide Children’s compassionately serves each day.

The goal of the Luncheon is to support advances in pediatric care and research throughout the areas of most need at Nationwide Children’s. To that end, this year’s Luncheon raised a record $1,400,000 for the Nicklaus

Children’s Health Care Foundation and Nationwide Children’s alliance. The 2019 amount equals the largest single-year donation in the event’s history and brings the Luncheon’s nine-year total to $7,850,000.

Executive Chairs of the Legends Luncheon presented by Safelite AutoGlass were Jack and Barbara Nicklaus, together with Nationwide CEO Steve Rasmussen and his wife Cindy, Nationwide Children’s CEO, Dr. Steve Allen and his wife Dr. Jamie Allen and Safelite AutoGlass President and CEO, Tom Feeney and his wife Debra. Luncheon guests experienced a charity event that is unique to Columbus, Ohio. Held at the Ohio Union on the campus of The Ohio State University, guests enjoyed a special conversation with Memorial Tournament Host and Founder Jack Nicklaus and 2019 Memorial Tournament Honoree and World Golf Hall of Fame member Judy Rankin.

The final highlight of the Legends Luncheon presented by Safelite AutoGlass was the presentation of the Nicklaus Youth Spirit Award, which is given annually to a patient or family who in some way has demonstrated a strong, driving spirit in overcoming obstacles, an unwavering optimistic outlook, and a strong conviction for their connection to Nationwide Children’s.

The Nicklaus Youth Spirit Award honors the courage within that inspires volunteerism and community outreach, which has a positive influence on others. This year Jack and Barbara Nicklaus presented the Nicklaus Youth Spirit Award to Nationwide Children’s patient Matthew McClish, 18, from Galloway, Ohio.

Matthew began his inspiring journey in second grade, when he had the first of what would be many seizures. He was 11-years-old when he was diagnosed with epilepsy and a brain tumor was revealed as the cause of his seizures.

Matthew endured multiple major brain surgeries over the next few years, and although he still had a long journey ahead to recovery, his heart was full of love and passion for the game of golf. With hard work and dedication to the sport, Matthew continued to battle through his condition and earned a place at the Ohio High School Athletic Association District Tournament his sophomore year. The following year as a junior, Matthew was named first team all-county.

In the fall of his junior year, Matthew underwent what would be his final brain surgery. When he woke up from the procedure, Matthew learned he was paralyzed on the left side of his body and had impaired vision. Doctors confirmed the devastating cause for his symptoms – a stroke.

During the next seven weeks as an inpatient at Nationwide Children’s, Matthew spent an average of 10 hours a day, six days a week in rehabilitation. To lift his spirts, his care team brought him a putter, and Matthew began hitting putts while nurses physically lifted and supported him into a standing position.

“It brought some relief, being able to do what I love,” said Matthew.

After seven weeks in the hospital, Matthew finally went home. Still unable to use the left side of his body, he made a decision that seemed crazy at the time. He decided to relearn playing the game of golf, one handed. Determined, he began spending hours and hours practicing at a golf simulator. After a few months he finally felt comfortable with his one-handed swing and was able to return to play on his high school golf team for his senior season.

Matthew can no longer drive, go for a run or play the saxophone. He has to wear a brace on his leg at all times, so he doesn’t break a bone. But his story is still being written, one swing at a time.

“I want people first to be inspired that there’s nothing impossible, nothing that you can’t overcome,” said Matthew.

True to the hearts of Jack and Barbara Nicklaus, the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide includes as one of its primary objectives a genuine, philanthropic vision. It is through the Tournament’s partnership with Nationwide Children’s that this vision comes to life in the form of pediatric care for children, not only in central Ohio, but from all 50 states and more than 50 countries each year.

Nine-year Tournament sponsor Nationwide shares a similar tradition of support for Nationwide Children’s. Nationwide is committed to broadening the impact of its presenting sponsorship of the Memorial Tournament to bring greater awareness and increased funding to Nationwide Children’s and to those who benefit the most – families and children in need of care.