Joaquin Niemann raises over $2m to save cousin’s life

Joaquin Niemann Cousin

Joaquin Niemann has proven to be one of the biggest prospects on the PGA Tour since his rookie season in 2019. It also turns out he has one of the biggest hearts.

The Chilean was dealt a significant blow back in November 2020, when he was informed that his one-month-old baby cousin, Rafita Caldero, had been diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

The prognosis for most infants diagnosed with the disease is that they don’t live beyond early childhood. Baby Rafita was in need of a drug called Zolgensma, a gene therapy for children under the age of two, which Niemann explained costs $2.1million.

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The PGA Tour winner decided he would use his platform and launched a Go Fund Me page ahead of the RSM Classic in November, in an attempt to raise the lofty sum needed for the treatment. 

The 22-year-old pledged $5,000 for every birdie and $10,000 for every eagle he made on top of $152,450 worth of earnings he ended up receiving. He also revealed he donated his $65,262 he pocketed from the Mayakoba Classic as well.

At this week's Genesis Invitational, during his post-round interview on Thursday, Niemann revealed that the $2.1million target has been achieved. 

“It's amazing to see how much money we raised in such a short period,” said Niemann. “Now that we've got it done, it feels relief and it feels great. Yeah, we've got to keep fighting for Rafita. He's got to keep fighting and I think he's going to be all right because we're fighting to support him.”

Niemann’s baby cousin, now five months old, has already received the one-time intravenous injection, designed to improve muscle movement and function as well as survival chances of a child afflicted with the disease.

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If the drug works for a patient such as Rafita, who is now out of hospital and at home recovering, it’s possible to stop the deterioration of motor neurons and give the child a chance to achieve normal development.

“I got a lot of support from the tour,” added the Chilean. “Social media was great. We raised a lot of money in Mexico with the sponsors of Mexico and also my sponsor gave me a lot of help, too, which is really nice to be supported by them. So, it feels great to feel the support from all the people that I'm around.”

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