AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A legendary golfer is making efforts to help the community of East Palestine, Ohio.
Annika Sorenstam is regarded as one of the best female golfers in history. And now that she’s stepped away from competitive golf, she’s taking time to give back to the community.
“Mike said, ‘This is my town, these are my people…’,” said Sorenstam.
On the night of February 3, 2023, a freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio.
Annika’s husband, Mike McGee, was born in East Palestine. He grew up there with his parents and his sister, Michelle.
“I was like, ‘Wow, this is so scary, can this really be true?” said Sorenstam. “And he kept saying, ‘I gotta do something, I gotta do something.”
That desire to do something led to Annika Fore East Palestine – a national drive to help the Ohio community in need.
“To tell the people that we care,” said Sorenstam. “That people are thinking of you and thinking, you know, that we can do something to help them out.”
“We have a strong connection to East Palestine,” said Sorenstam.
With an event on May 15th, the national campaign will also allow people from around the country to donate in any way they can.
“Creating memories and knowing that you’re doing something good for somebody else,” said Sorenstam. “It doesn’t get much better than that.”
For Sorenstam, waking up with a sense of purpose is the motivation in life.
“I mentor a lot of young girls now, through the Annika Foundation and we talk about playing on the LPGA and what it’s like,” said Sorenstam. “And, so, it’s nice to be able to give back and share, you know, my story, my experiences and, certainly, my passion for the game to the next generation. And, hopefully, many of them will go on and live their dreams.”
Augusta National’s 2023 Drive, Chip and Putt Girls 12-13 division champion, Maya Palanza Gaudin, says she keeps up with Sorenstam on Instagram.
“It’s nice to wake up in the morning and see she’s doing another post,” said Gaudin. “And she has an amazing swing. She was awesome to watch on TV. It’s amazing to meet these legends and then to meet new, aspiring golfers. And
I hope to be one of them.”
Sorenstam says she feels grateful for where golf has taken her. And she’ll always feel a responsibility to be a good role model.
“I feel like I’m in a place where I can give back and, hopefully, inspire others and get them back on their feet,” said Sorenstam.
Sorenstam tells us the support for Annika For East Palestine has already been incredible.
“People are…I think they’re feeling the connection, you know?” said Sorensam. “They’re feeling that this is something that’s really good. And we can really make a difference.”
You can find more details about the May 15th event at https://annikaforeeastpalestine.com/.