PGA TOUR Champions is about so much more than golf.

It raises millions of dollars for charity at every stop, and the Principal Charity Classic in Iowa is one of the tournaments at the forefront. A professional golf tournament in a state with no major pro sports teams is a big deal, and the PCC has widespread community support.

It has raised more than $23 million for Iowa children’s charities since 2007, including a record-shattering $5.7 million in 2019.

Variety is one of the PCC’s four Tournament Charity Partners. Variety advocates for and improves the lives of children throughout Iowa who are at-risk, underprivileged, critically ill and/or growing up with special needs.

Variety’s “Bikes for Kids” program, which provides bikes for children with special needs, highlights its work with the PCC. Each year at the tournament, specialized bikes/equipment are presented to a child/family in need.

The recipient in 2018 was Caylee Pettyjohn. Caylee, who’s 9 now, suffered a stroke at birth. She has received weekly physical and occupational therapy to address strength, balance, coordination and gross motor skills. At age 5, she began suffering from frequent seizure activity. In 2014, Caylee underwent surgery to disconnect the left side of her brain where seizure activity was occurring. She is unable to balance, steer and pedal a traditional bike, and her parents didn’t really know what to do.

That’s where Variety and the PCC stepped in. These specialized bikes cost anywhere from $1,500 to $8,000 apiece. Charitable dollars raised by the Principal Charity Classic have helped fund the donation of more than 100 specialized bikes, one of which was a perfectly safe and innovative solution for Caylee. The bike allows her to improve her lower extremity/core strength and overall endurance, which will carry over to her daily functions.

“They had the bike for Caylee and actually had bikes for her two sisters as well,” said Emilee Pettyjohn, Caylee’s mother. “She loves it. It’s been very helpful, it’s hard for us too, because it’s hard to find things to do for her. The bike has been very helpful.”

Three-time PCC champion Jay Haas, who has been a part of several bike presentations, remembers Caylee’s well.

“I have to say it was one of my fondest memories in all my days on the PGA TOUR,” Haas said this week. “I could feel and see the excitement from Caylee.

“I think we all know that funds are raised and donated to local charities during each event that we play. but when you can see first-hand what it means to some, for me it really leaves a lasting impression. I have enjoyed the Principal Charity Classic and love how the people of Iowa support the event and all of the great charities involved.”

Variety received a $30,000 donation from PGA TOUR Champions for winning Charity of the Year in 2018. That money was used to help fund the construction of the inclusive Variety Star Playground at Riverview Park, which was Des Moines’ second park with adaptive equipment for children with special needs.

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