The 2016 Sanderson Farms Championship attracted the best athletes.
People like K.J. Fields of Mount Olive.
K.J., 11, plays basketball, competes in track and field events and has even gone surfing in California, all from his wheelchair. He was at the state's only PGA TOUR event Saturday and Sunday to thank spectators for their support of Century Club Charities and Friends of Children's Hospital.
Airlifted by helicopter to Batson Children's Hospital after being hit by a car seven years ago, K.J. was among patients at this year's tournament to greet golf fans. This year has been the first for Children's of Mississippi patients and employees to welcome those who make Century Club Charities' gifts to Friends of Children's Hospital possible.
Century Club, the host of the Sanderson Farms Championship, following the 2015 tournament, donated more than $1.109 million to Friends of Children's Hospital, a nonprofit group that raises funds for Batson Children's Hospital. In August, Friends pledged $20 million over the next decade to the Children's of Mississippi capital campaign to enlarge and update pediatric care facilities at UMMC.
K.J.'s mom, DeeWanda Fields, knows UMMC well. She was born at UMMC in 1980 and sickle cell treatments there have kept her healthy. “I loved it there,” she said of the state's only children's hospital. “I went there until I was grown. I knew K.J. was going to be well taken care of.”
Her oldest son had made the all-star list in baseball on a Thursday, had kindergarten graduation Friday and then that weekend was fighting for his life after a spinal cord injury from being hit while riding a go-cart.
“My papaw (Founte McNair) was giving me CPR,” K.J. said of the time between the accident and when the ambulance arrived. “I always thank him for keeping me alive.”
Helping Children's of Mississippi is “an honor,” said Kelvin Fields, K.J.'s father. “We love everything about Batson. They saved K.J.'s life.”