KU School of Medicine–Wichita
1010 N. Kansas
Wichita, KS, 67214
May 28, 2021
By Amy Geiszler-Jones
This year's Korn Ferry PGA Tournament of the Year has put the KU School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Pediatrics in a top spot on its leaderboard of organizations that help children.
The Wichita Open, which started more than 30 years ago, has become a premier community event and fundraiser for children's nonprofit organizations. Earlier this year, the tournament announced a three-year partnership making KU Wichita Pediatrics its charitable partner. It also formally renamed the tournament as the Wichita Open Benefitting KU Wichita Pediatrics.
Each June, the Wichita Open brings more than 50,000 people to the Crestview Country Club in east Wichita as part of the Korn Ferry Tour, the PGA's developmental tour for professional golfers. In 2019, the Wichita Open was named the tour's next Tournament of the Year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Korn Ferry Tour's 2020 and 2021 seasons combined as a one-time, wraparound season because of event cancellations, so the Wichita Open remains the tour's Tournament of the Year for 2021.
The golf tournament is a major fundraising event, raising as much as $250,000 annually for children's charities. With the new partnership, KU Wichita Pediatrics will receive an annual $50,000 donation from the Wichita Open and benefit from the organization's other fundraising events. The Wichita Open hosts a handful of other events throughout the year, including a popular karaoke event and a new fall tournament this year.
"This will help both of our missions," said Roy Turner, the Wichita Open tournament director for the past 22 years.
"This is a natural partnership for us because we are both focused on supporting children," said Brian Pate, M.D., chair of KU Wichita Pediatrics and professor of pediatrics at KU School of Medicine-Wichita, when the partnership was announced. "Aligning the region's premier pediatric team and sporting event compliments KU Wichita Pediatrics' mission to be ‘Together for Kansas Children. Forever.' My hope is that through our partnership, Wichita comes to know KU Wichita Pediatrics better and that, together, we catalyze even greater impact on the health and wellness of our children."
KU Wichita Pediatrics is the region's largest group of academic pediatric specialists, including the only regional specialists in a half-dozen areas, and supports the state's only training program for pediatricians. KU Wichita Pediatrics provides innovative clinical services, teaching, child advocacy, medical leadership, research and community collaboration, all focused on helping Kansas children achieve health and wellness.
Two major initiatives that will benefit from the Wichita Open funds are the department's efforts to help reduce Kansas' infant mortality rates and help more Kansas babies make it to their first birthday (through the Center for Research and Infant Birth and Survival or CRIBS) and to increase the ability of rural health care professionals to treat kids with mental health needs (the KSKidsMAP project), Dr. Pate said.
Dr. Pate first became involved with the Wichita Open four years ago when KU Wichita Pediatrics joined the Wichita Open's ambassador program. About 40 business and community leaders comprise the ambassador program. Along with meeting monthly, the group helps raise funds for the charities supported by the Wichita Open.
"The opportunities to grow our relationships were evident," Dr. Pate said.
While helping raise money for charities like the child life specialist program at Wesley Children's Hospital, League 42 (a youth baseball program), Big Brothers Big Sisters and other recipients, Dr. Pate was also helping raise awareness about what KU Wichita Pediatrics did.
Among those who were impressed with what they heard were Randy Salyer, a Wichita business owner and philanthropist who encouraged making KU Wichita Pediatrics the open's charitable partner, and Mark Douglass, the managing partner and branch manager of Douglass Wealth Partners. Salyer died in January 2020.
"Until I had met Brian, I didn't realize how much they were doing," said Douglass, who's been involved with the Wichita Open since 1999, starting as a volunteer. "Frankly, that's why I think this is such a great partnership because it benefits both the tournament and KU Wichita Pediatrics in raising awareness."
"I think as more people hear about it, they'll wonder why more isn't being done," said Turner.
Douglass is one of those who does more now that he knows about KU Wichita Pediatrics. He intends to make KU Wichita Pediatrics a beneficiary of client and other fundraising events his business plans, he said.
The Wichita Open will continue to benefit other children's charities, as well, and that aligns well with KU Wichita Pediatrics' goal of healthier Kansas kids, Dr. Pate said.
"To participate in those other charities, like League 42 or the YMCA, kids need to be healthy and that's where we come in," he said.
The tournament is expected to draw nearly 160 players this year. General admission tickets are $10; tickets are also available for other events including the Hatchett Tee-Off Party and 17th hole VIP events. For an event schedule and more information, visit wichitaopen.com.
Above, left: File photo of KU Wichita Pediatrics staff at the Wichita OpenKU School of Medicine-Wichita