PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday visited The Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens and delivered a high honor to the philanthropic wife of golf legend Jack Nicklaus.
The governor awarded Florida's Medal of Freedom to Barbara Nicklaus for her contributions and commitment to pediatric health care in the state.
"When you're talking about support for pediatric health care, I don't think you can find somebody that's had more of a profound impact on the state than Barbara Nicklaus has," DeSantis said during a news conference at PGA National Resort & Spa.
The Medal of Freedom is presented to those in Florida who have made an "especially meritorious contribution" to the state. Previous recipients have been iconic Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden, as well as Felix Rodríguez, a Cuban exile and former paramilitary officer with the Central Intelligence Agency.
Barbara and Jack Nicklaus have focused much of their lives on the health care and well-being of children.
The couple started the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation in 2004, which helps children and their families have access to cutting-edge medical care.
The foundation, which has raised more than $150 million to provide quality care to children around the world, has a partnership with Jupiter Medical Center and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.
"It has changed people's lives. It has obviously saved people's lives," DeSantis said.
In addition to the Medal of Freedom, DeSantis on Friday signed a proclamation declaring Feb. 25 "Barbara Nicklaus Day" in the state of Florida.
"I feel so honored, so proud, and so humbled to receive this unbelievable award," Nicklaus said. "What we do for others in the world remains and is immortal. That is our goal."
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Earlier on Friday, DeSantis and his son, Mason, arrived at PGA National Resort & Spa's Champion Course around 2 p.m. and spent some time at the famed Goslings Bear Trap overlooking the 17th hole.
After leaving the area, DeSantis posed for pictures with supporters.
The governor then signed a Military Appreciation Wall at the Pratt & Whitney Patriots Outpost, a section of the course reserved exclusively for both active duty and veteran U.S. military personnel.
"God bless our vets!" DeSantis wrote. "Keep FL Free!"
DeSantis served in the U.S. Navy, where he spent about six years on active duty.
The Honda Classic runs through Sunday. Matt Jones is the defending champion.