LOS ANGELES – At last fall’s RSM Classic Joaquin Niemann was overcome by emotions when asked about his cousin’s month-old baby who had been diagnosed with a deadly genetic disorder.
“It’s kind of like a mission for me to help out for them,” he said as he choked back tears.
Niemann initiated a campaign to pay for a potential cure for Rafita Calderon, who had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. The gene therapy drug called Zolgensma costs $2.1 million for a one-time infusion.
Niemann donated all of his earnings from the final two events of 2020 as well as $5,000 for every birdie he made and $10,000 for every eagle.
On Wednesday at the Genesis Invitational, Niemann reported that he’d raised the money needed to pay for the treatment and Calderon was recovering back home in Chile.
“It's been amazing the last couple days,” Niemann said. “It was amazing to see like the whole Tour, like all the people that supported me, all the companies, it was amazing. We raised so much money in such a short period, it gives us a lot of faith for Rafita.”
Calderon remains in the hospital and Niemann said his condition has improved dramatically.
“Right now he's doing great,” he said. “They sent me some pictures a couple days ago and he looks stronger, he looks happy. It was really hard to get the $2 million and for me being here getting more connections, you know, social media, all this stuff helps. It was beautiful.”