PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Athletes are often recognized and admired for their achievements in sports, but sometimes it’s beyond the game where praise is truly warranted.
Smylie Kaufman, a professional golfer who has earned his share of success in a series of tournaments, including on both the Web.com and PGA Tour, since turning pro three years ago, is someone who is deserving of admiration for his work away from golf.
In 2006, Kaufman and his younger brother, Luckie, created the Kids vs. Cancer campaign as a way to help children stricken with cancer in his Birmingham, Ala., neighborhood.
“For me, it was something that my mom kind of challenged us to do,” said Kaufman, following a practice round at the Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course ahead of the Valspar Championship this weekend. “My brother and I were very active and playing a bunch of golf that time so we wanted to help out with the kids in the area that were struggling with childhood cancer.”
Utilizing his natural ability, Kaufman was able to do much more than spread awareness for the cause, providing help on a more tangible level.
“We decided to play a hundred holes and get people in the community to donate per hole and it took off,” he said. “We raised about $60,000.”
“It was just really cool to see the interaction with the community and how other junior golfers wanted to be a part of it as well,” said Kaufman. “It was pretty cool.”
In addition to raising money more than a decade ago, Kaufman was heavily involved with helping the residents of Louisiana after the state suffered a massive flood that destroyed countless homes in August of 2016.
A Louisiana State University alum, the disaster was difficult for Kaufman to digest, but he hopes to continue to help those in need.
“It was tough seeing the place I went to school have that kind of damage and flooding,” he said. “People are still struggling with it too, so I look forward to getting back and still helping out with something that was so close to my heart and really hope they get back on their feet soon.”