They are all alive 10 years later. All 10. One is even getting married.
Allie Allen presented her engagement ring onstage Wednesday morning with the other patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital who have had a FedEx Purple Eagle aircraft named in their honor for the past 10 years. That’s roughly how much time has passed since Allen was first diagnosed with cancer.
She had just been going through a somewhat heartbreaking build up to this week and up to that particular anniversary moment at TPC Southwind. It was on Monday that Allen, 23, underwent a brain MRI for the first time in a year. She was worried because she had had seizures. It was the longest she had gone between scans. With her nuptials pending just four months away, the stakes were particularly high.
Doctors once told her she wouldn’t go through to graduating from high school. She just graduated from Ole Miss and bought a house with her fiancé.
So the first FedEx St. Jude Championship, like so many differently named golf tournaments hosted by Memphis over seven decades, also became a celebration of life. Allen still has a cyst and still has a tumor, but the results came back Tuesday that everything is stable at this time.
Bring this wedding.
“I’m taking all the steps that I wouldn’t have imagined,” said Allen, who grew up from the time a friendship with Zach Randolph first brought her into the city’s consciousness.
PROGRAM:PGA Tour Memphis: FedEx St. Jude Championship Departures Thursday and Friday
WHAT IF:Tiger Woods’ future on the Memphis PGA Tour? Why Notah Begay III Calls It a “Big Ask”
FEDEX ST. JUDE CHAMPIONSHIP:Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas eager to focus on FedEx St. Jude Championship and golf
That is, after all, the point of it all, beyond all the great golfers this tournament brings to town every year, and beyond the controversy these golfers have brought to town with them this year.
FedEx and St. Jude have been naming planes after patients for a decade, and those patients are all on track to look like Allen. St. Jude has been participating in the city’s professional golf tournament for over 50 years.
How the rest of the week unfolds seems almost irrelevant, even though this is the first time Memphis has hosted the FedEx Cup playoffs.
This tournament will take place following an afternoon in court in which three golfers who wrapped up the PGA Tour for the guaranteed money of the LIV Golf Series tried to fight their way to even more money. on the PGA Tour. The PGA Tour may have gotten a decisive victory when a federal judge in California denied their request for a temporary injunction to play here. But this whole ordeal highlights just how high the priorities are right now.
LIV GOLF RULE:Five most interesting things said by Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas about the LIV Golf decision
“It just allows us to focus on the essentials, which is golf,” said Rory McIlroy.
It’s kind of fair.
“It’s actually golf with a purpose,” said ALSAC CEO Rick Shadyac, and it looks like the golf world needs a lesson in that.
Hopefully Memphis can provide one this week.
Shadyac pointed out that the survival rate for the most common form of pediatric leukemia has increased from 4% to 94% since St. Jude opened 60 years ago.
It is true that it is impossible to avoid the discussion of this Saudi-backed competitor of the PGA Tour, of what golfers could leave, of the amount of money spent in what seems to be the start of an unsustainable battle, over what might happen next.
“You hear so many names, so many rumors, so many things thrown around, and that’s probably been the most annoying thing,” said Justin Thomas, who added that it happened everywhere from the putting green to the a friend’s recent wedding.
REACTION:Five most interesting things said by Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas about the LIV Golf decision
WHO IS THE CHAMPION:FedEx St. Jude Championship: Tony Finau is defending champion, but he never won in Memphis
So maybe it would be better if names like Riley were mentioned more. It’s the 5-year-old bicep who got a FedEx plane named after him this year.
Or Mackaylee. She became the first St. Jude patient to get a FedEx plane bearing her name a decade ago. Today, she is a teenager.
Or Ally. His plane still flies over the Carolinas, a symbol of the importance of golf in Memphis.
“We’re all still alive,” she said with the TPC Southwind driving range full of PGA Tour golfers behind her, and a lifetime still ahead of her. “I haven’t stopped smiling.”
You can reach Commercial Appeal columnist Mark Giannotto by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: @mgiannotto