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Birdies for Health debuts at 2019 American Family Insurance Championship

Several UW Health causes will benefit from pledge drive

Spectators and golfers can help improve research, treatment and the lives of people in Wisconsin and beyond at this year’s PGA TOUR Champions American Family Insurance Championship.

All it takes is a little success on the course from the players and a little green from spectators.

UW Health, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and American Family Insurance are teaming up to debut an expanded Birdies for Health for the 2019 American Family Insurance Championship.

This unique fundraiser and pledge drive is designed to support five causes at UW Health. Those include:

  • UW Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and McPherson Eye Research Institute: Committed to stopping the progression of blinding diseases through strong educational programs, leading research discoveries, and compassionate patient care.
  • UW Health’s American Family Children’s Hospital: One of Madison’s crown jewels makes a real difference in the life of sick children and works tirelessly to support patient and family needs.
  • UW Initiative to End Alzheimer’s: Dedicated to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease by seeking new treatments, developing prevention strategies, and improving care.
  • UW Carbone Cancer Center: Committed to beating cancer through research, prevention, and treatment with an ultimate goal of dramatically reducing the burden of cancer on patients and communities.
  • UW Health Transplant and UW Organ and Tissue Donation: Patients receive the gift of life every year through amazing advances in heart, lung, kidney, liver, pancreas, and multi-organ transplantation.

Last year’s fundraiser focused on Birdies for Alzheimer’s. This year the pledge drive has expanded to have a greater impact in multiple areas.

Birdies for Health is like a walk-a-thon but money is pledged for every birdie made at the tournament. So, for example, if one pledges five cents a birdie and at the end of the three-day tournament there are 821 total birdies made, the gift would be $41.05. A birdie is a score when a player shoots under par at a given hole. American Family Insurance will match the first $100,000 pledged.

Here are the number of birdies made the past three years:

  • 2018- 899
  • 2017-878
  • 2016- 1,053

“The American Family Insurance Championship is a great experience for fans, but also transcends the game of golf,” said Jack Salzwedel, chair and CEO of American Family Insurance. “Birdies for Health offers participants a unique way to help health-related causes, but more importantly, aligns with our goal of supporting deserving organizations doing important work in our communities. The funds raised through this pledge drive will support critical research that can enhance or save lives.”

“Patient-center care is our number one focus at UW Health and we are thrilled to partner with American Family Insurance for Birdies for Health. It is a special fundraiser that will directly impact our patients,” said Dr. Alan Kaplan, UW Health CEO. “Funds raised will make a difference in research, treatment and care at our world class academic medical center.”

Participants can make a pledge here: Pledges can be directed to one or multiple causes or made as a one-time total gift.

The American Family Insurance Championship will be held June 21-23 at University Ridge Golf Course in Verona. A 78-player field participates in the three-day tournament. American Family Insurance, the PGA TOUR Champions, and the 2020 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain and Wisconsin native Steve Stricker launched this professional golf tournament in June 2016. Since then, proceeds from the event have raised more than $4.7 million for charitable organizations.

For more information visit

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UW Health media contact:
Emily Kumlien

About the American Family Insurance Championship
American Family Insurance, the PGA TOUR Champions and Wisconsin native Steve Stricker launched this professional golf tournament in June 2016. The American Family Insurance Championship, held annually at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wis., features a 78-player field. Past champions include Scott McCarron (2018), Fred Couples (2017) and Kirk Triplett (2016). Championship week includes the three-day tournament, two Pro-Am competitions, 5K run/walk, charity concert and a special exhibition featuring celebrities from the sports and music industries. The 2019 event will be held June 15-23 with all proceeds allocated to the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation for distribution to the American Family Children’s Hospital and other charities. More than $4.7 million has been donated to charity since the inaugural event in 2016. For more information: Web:; Twitter: @AmFamChamp; Facebook: American Family Insurance Championship; Instagram: amfamchampionship #AmFamChamp


Several UW Health causes will benefit from pledge drive.