Golfing for a cause: U-M Mott Children's Hospital partners with LPGA Volvik Championship

By Meredith Bruckner - Community News Producer

Credit: LPGA

ANN ARBOR - For the first time, the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital Congenital Heart Center is joining forces with the LPGA ahead of its upcoming Volvik Championship at Travis Pointe Country Club on May 21.

Together, they will be hosting an LPGA Pro-Am during tournament week in which sponsors will have the chance to play with some of the top professional golfers in the world. All the charitable proceeds will go to the Congenital Heart Center at Mott Children's.

"It’s going to be a fantastic event in its first year; there’s a lot of excitement about it," said Dr. John R. Charpie, professor and division director of pediatric cardiology and co-director of U-M's Congenital Heart Center. "I think Ann Arbor is such a wonderful community that embraces these kinds of charitable organizations.


Dr. John R. Charpie stands outside the Pediatric Cardio Thoracic Unit at Mott Children's Hospital (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

"We, as a large pediatric heart center have a lot of needs -- mostly in the research realm -- to really support our mission of providing the most outstanding care for kids with heart disease. And although we’re one of the top programs in the country, this is really a huge need as the federal funding for research goes down and down."

An avid golfer himself, Charpie made the connection with the LPGA to host a charity day.

"This tournament is now drawing something like six to eight of the top 15 players in the world and 25-30 of the top 50 players in the world, so it’s a very well-run tournament that the LPGA tournament players talk very highly about," he explained.

"The Pro-Am events affiliated with the Volvik Championship have been fantastic," Michael Whan, LPGA Commissioner, said in a press release. "We're excited about this new relationship with the Congenital Heart Center, and we can’t wait for the 2018 tournament week in Ann Arbor."

Spots in the Monday Pro-Am are still available.

"We have singles, twosomes and foursomes," said Charpie. "All of those (include) different levels of sponsorship as well as just charitable donations, (which are) 100% tax deductible to the heart center itself. I’m just so grateful to anyone who comes out to support us and our kids because it’s really such a worthwhile cause.

"It’s going to be a charitable, fun event that’s different than just donating. You get something back."


(Credit: LPGA)

For more information on becoming a sponsor or to make a donation, click here.

About U-M's Congenital Heart Center

One in 100 children are born with congenital heart defects, making it the most common birth defect, with 40,000 children born with heart disease each year in the U.S. alone.

"A lot of things are so rare, but this isn’t. It’s extremely common," he said. "At a top center like Mott, we have a 97% survival rate, which is vastly different than when I started in this business 30 years ago. The technology and innovations have really translated to improved care for these children and their families.

"And so I think, in that context, it tells you just how important this fundraiser is. Now we’re looking at ways to improve their quality of life and help them have children and contribute to society as healthy, working adults."


(Credit: Michigan Medicine)

The CHC at Mott Children's Hospital is one of the top three children's heart centers in the nation. Because care involves fetuses, infants, children and teenagers, doctors and nurses are highly trained in concentrated specialties and regularly perform state-of-the-art medical procedures. 

Around 1,000 surgeries are performed every year at the CHC -- an enormous number compared to most hospitals. This is because the CHC is by and large a referral center, meaning kids from around the country and around the world come to be treated there. In fact, only 35% of patients live within a 100-mile radius of the hospital.


Hand prints of patients can be found throughout the CHC at Mott Children's Hospital (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

"At a program like Michigan, we treat everything," he said. "We are the place that the patients are sent to; referred to for the most complex care."

For Charpie, the family experience is just as important as a successful recovery.

"If you’ve been fortunate enough to not have a child or a family member who's required Mott Children’s Hospital, who have never been in the place, you don’t know what a special gem it is," he said. "But if you have, you do. And our patients and our families are tremendously strong advocates for us, specifically in the heart center. They recognize that we’re one of the top heart centers in the country, and so they serve as our voice."


'Success story' photos line the walls of the Pediatric Cardio Thoracic Unit (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

Three of the top players from the LPGA Volvik Championship will be visiting the children at the heart center on Tuesday, May 22, speaking with the kids and their families and holding a put-put contest.

"It’s really a full integration, and I think that’s what makes it so special," said Charpie. "Having run a lot of charitable events, I think when you have that depth of understanding who you are and the passion for what you do, it just means that much more, and I think this is going to be a great opportunity for us."

To learn more about the Congenital Heart Center at University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital, visit its website.

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