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Palm Beach Gardens family's life changed by Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation

Child has 90% of lung removed at 4 months old
Gabriela with mom Kristen Caffelle at the Honda Classic
Posted at 1:41 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 18:57:54-04

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — A gracious Palm Beach Gardens family had a chance Wednesday to visit the Honda Classic and thank the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation for saving their daughter's life.


The Caffelle family endured a tense last couple of years.

In the summer of 2018, Kristen Caffelle was 25 weeks pregnant with her daughter Gabriela.

Caffelle went in for a routine test when she noticed the technician spent a long time circling the baby's heart.

A doctor then revealed to the family that Gabriela had a large mass compromising 90 percent of her left lung.

Caffelle family meets Barbara Nicklaus at Honda Classic

Known as congenital pulmonary airway malformation, doctors said the mass was so large that it shifted the baby's heart, windpipe and unaffected lung to the right side of her chest and compressed her right lung.

Caffelle later met with a pediatric surgeon Dr. Fuad Alkhoury and a pediatric cardiologist Dr. David Drossner at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.

The doctors developed a treatment plan where most of the work could be done at Nicklaus Children's Hospital Outpatient Center at Legacy Place near her Palm Beach Gardens home.

The center is supported by the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation, a non-profit started by Jack and Barbara Nicklaus in 2004.

Gabriella had surgery to remove 90% of her left lung when she was 4 months old.

Caffelle family visits Honda Classic

The child's health problems subsided a year later, and an X-ray in July showed the left lung had started to regrow.

Gabriella is now 2.5 years old and on the road to recovery.

Caffelle joined the Honda Classic's CouTOURe Club as a way to show thanks for the support that the tournament has provided to the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation.

"I thought by joining the CouTOURe Club, it would be a perfect platform to give back and show my appreciation to the Nicklaus Foundation, which gave my daughter a second chance at life," Caffelle said.

Last year the Honda Classic raised more than $5 million for Children's Charities with the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation being the primary beneficiary.

Honda Classic Executive Director Ken Kennerly
Honda Classic Executive Director Ken Kennerly says sponsors and corporations have helped support the tournament's charitable efforts despite the tough economic times.

"We hope to break $2 million [this year]. Obviously, we're limited on the number of fans we're allowed to have in here, which is a reflection of revenue from the gate," Honda Classic Executive Director Ken Kennerly said.

Kennerly said limited capacity due to COVID-19 means fewer ticket sales and fewer guests spending money.

"We’re going to have 10,000 fans per day, which is about 20 percent of our normal capacity," Kennerly said.

However, he said there is hope to make up some of those losses with corporations and sponsors stepping up.

"Most of them have pretty much written us checks for charity. We have agreements in place, and a lot of them have said, 'Go ahead. We know you're in a tough situation, and we want to continue to support you and support charity and everything you do through the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation,'" Kennerly said.