Golfing for a cause: Annual tournament raises money for Florida children’s hospital research

Golf tournament in it’s 24th running

24th annual Caring Classic Golf Tournament (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

CELEBRATION, Fla – A golf tournament raising more than $200,000 benefitting children’s hospitals in Central Florida was held in Celebration on Monday.

The 24th annual Caring Classic Golf Tournament hosted by Marriott Vacations Worldwide saw 120 people come out to play at the Celebration Golf Club. They helped raise money for different pediatric programs at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. Both hospitals are a part of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

This year, JP Lugo and his parents were chosen as the “Miracle Family” to represent the other children and families in the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

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“It means a lot,” JP said with a big smile. “It’s amazing; I took off school to be here.”

When JP was two-years-old, he was diagnosed with Potocki-Lupski Syndrome (PTLS), a rare genetic condition that causes complications including developmental delays, feeding and speech difficulties, and low muscle tone. His mother, Norma Lugo, is taking this day all to heart.

“For him to be a part [and] to represent the kids and for us to represent the parents and the families, it’s something very, very special,” Norma said. “It’s something that we carry very deep within our heart.”

Over the 24 years of running, the Caring Classic has raised over $3 million, and Marriott Vacations Worldwide has donated $14 million to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Lori Gustafson, the executive vice president and chief brand & digital officer for Marriott Vacations Worldwide, said she sees this partnership as one to continue for many years.

“We love this event,” Gustafson said. “We think it’s a great opportunity to connect with those who are making a difference in our community. I know it’s near and dear to my heart.”

Cary D’ortona, president of Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, said the money raised has helped start up new programs like the fetal surgery program and hiring specific doctors.

“Having community partners like Marriott Vacations Worldwide and Disney coming along and saying, ‘Hey, we want to support your mission, we want to dream big with you,’ it means the world to us,” D’ortona said.

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