PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The state of Florida has declared a state of emergency. In a special ceremony at the Honda Classic at PGA National on Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis bestowed the “highest distinction in the State of Florida” on Barbara Nicklaus.
Nicklaus, the wife of 18-time major golf champion Jack Nicklaus, was presented with the Florida Governor’s Medal of Freedom by DeSantis, who was joined by her husband.
Barbara Nicklaus’ lengthy dedication for children’s healthcare was highlighted by DeSantis, who noted that the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Foundation has raised more than $150 million to fund programs in South Florida, the United States, and more than 120 countries around the world.
“I don’t think you can find someone who has had a more significant impact on this state than Barbara Nicklaus when it comes to support for pediatric healthcare,” DeSantis said. “…We’re proud of how much this has impacted so many folks.”
After receiving the honor, Nicklaus reminisced on her more than 60-year marriage and credited her husband with inspiring her charity endeavors.
“I’ve always been so proud of him, and I guess I wanted him to be proud of me,” she says. “Early on in our marriage, we decided that if we could help anyone, it should be children.” We’ve been so fortunate to live in Florida and to be able to give back to our state’s children and families by offering the best medical treatment.
“What we do for ourselves is what we die with.” What we do for others in the world has eternal value.”
In 2021, DeSantis presented renowned Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden with the inaugural Florida Governor’s Medal of Freedom.
Felix I. Rodrguez-Mendiguta, a Cuban exile who served in the Vietnam War, took part in the Bay of Pigs Invasion, and assisted in the capture of legendary revolutionary Che Guevara in Bolivia, is among the other honorees.
The Governor’s Medal of Freedom is given to anybody who has made a “exceptionally outstanding contribution to the state’s interests and citizens, its culture, or other major public or private initiative.”
Prior to the event, DeSantis walked the Champion course at PGA National, watching golf with patrons at the world-famous “Bear Trap” on the back nine.