There are only a handful of athletes so good at what they do that their names become synonymous with excellence in their sport. When it comes to golf, even Tiger Woods will tell you that that the “king,” the man whose name will forever stand for greatness on the links, is Arnold Palmer. Palmer died Sunday in Pittsburgh at 87, ending an astounding 52-year career as a professional golfer that encompassed 95 professional wins and 62 PGA Tour wins.
But Arnold Palmer was more than just a great golfer. Even more important, he was also a great human being. In the 1980s, he and his wife were given a tour of the small neonatal ICU and pediatrics unit of the Orlando Regional Medical Center. Deciding that the city could do better, he lend his name and his fundraising efforts to the Arnold Palmer Hospital for children. He urged the staff always to strive to make it one of the best hospitals in the world. Today, the hospital’s website cites his legacy of caring by recalling how he said that none of his achievements in golf compared to being a part of saving the life of a child.
Arnold Palmer may be gone, but his name will live on, in golf, on the children’s hospital that bears it, and let’s hope, as a sorely-needed sports role model for current and future generations.