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Governor Ron DeSantis Awards Medal of Freedom to First Lady of Golf Barbara Nicklaus

Press release from the Office of Governor Ron DeSantis

Today, Governor Ron DeSantis presented Barbara Nicklaus with the Governor’s Medal of Freedom, the highest honor in the State of Florida, to recognize her contributions to the well-being of children and children’s health in Florida and beyond. Barbara Nicklaus is the co-founder and Chair of the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, which has raised $160 million in less than 18 years to support pediatric healthcare in the state, as well as nationally and globally. The Governor’s Medal of Freedom is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the state of Florida and its citizens. Barbara Nicklaus is the third person to receive the Medal of Freedom from Governor DeSantis.

“Barbara Nicklaus has selflessly dedicated herself to improving the lives of children in Florida,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “I am honored to recognize her efforts and contributions to our state. It is people like Barbara that make this state better every day. I am proud to recognize her incredible impact on Florida communities.”

The presentation today took place at The Honda Classic, the prestigious PGA TOUR event hosted at PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens. It was actually the move of The Honda Classic to Palm Beach County that inspired Barbara Nicklaus and her husband, golf legend Jack Nicklaus, to create the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation in 2004. The Foundation, which has been the primary beneficiary of The Honda Classic since 2003, supports Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, as well as outpatient centers that extend from Monroe County to Martin County, including a pediatric partnership with nearby Jupiter Medical Center for inpatient, emergency, and neonatal care.

“Golf has always been a wonderful vehicle for charity, and has given Jack and me a platform to impact lives in a meaningful way,” said Barbara Nicklaus, who was inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame last November. “We made a commitment over 55 years ago that if we were ever in a position to give back, we wanted to focus our help on children. This incredibly humbling honor today from Governor DeSantis serves to validate the life-changing work — in this great state and beyond — of the Foundation, as well as the doctors, nurses, and staff we are blessed to have as part of this team.”

Barbara, alongside her son Gary Nicklaus, co-chairs Children’s Healthcare Charities, the non-profit arm of The Honda Classic that annually supports more than 100 local charities, in addition to the Foundation.

The Governor’s Medal of Freedom was established in 2020 under Section 14.35, Florida Statutes, which allows the Governor to recognize any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to the interests and citizens of the state, its culture, or other significant public or private endeavor. The late Coach Bobby Bowden (1929-2021) was the inaugural recipient of the Governor’s Medal of Freedom on April 7, 2021, followed by Felix I. Rodríguez-Mendigutía, who received the Governor’s Medal of Freedom on September 16, 2021.