Christian Bartolacci stood over a 26-foot birdie putt on the thirty sixth and remaining gap of the North Florida Part Championship at The Membership at Hammock Seaside. Make it, and he would punch his ticket to the Nationwide PGA Skilled Championship with an opportunity to earn a spot into the PGA Championship. Miss it, and the wait to see if his rating would maintain up could be excruciating. Earlier than he struck the putt, he did one thing he had by no means performed. He stated a prayer. Because the ball left the putter, Bartolacci thought he had missed. However then the ball inexplicably broke proper and fell into the outlet. Because the ball fell, he clenched his fist and tears began to fill his eyes. He had holed the largest putt of his life. On the cart from the 18th inexperienced to the scoring space, he referred to as house to his spouse, Kimberly. “We’re going to New Mexico (the positioning of the nationwide match),” he stated excitedly. Tears flowed on each ends of the decision. Lastly, the Bartolaccis had one thing to sit up for. Kim was in her mattress when the decision got here in, unable to stand up from the newest remedy in her battle with Stage 4 liver most cancers.
The West Florida Tour is a staple in a world the place mini-tours come and go. Bartolacci has owned the tour for 12 years. It was his method to keep related to a recreation he loves after falling in need of his dream of taking part in for a dwelling. Erik Barnes and Adam Schenk are just some of the numerous gamers who’ve competed on the WFT on their method to the PGA Tour. The tour hosts one- and two-day occasions on wonderful programs and presents cheap entry charges. “The West Florida Tour prolonged my profession by two years,” says Chris Kennedy, a former professional. Provides Sean Jacklin, the son of two-time main champion Tony Jacklin, “Once I qualify for one thing, Christian is all the time one of many first folks to name me. He’s all the time rooting for us.” The West Florida Tour checks all of the bins.
Christian and Kimberly met on a cruise to the Bahamas in 2010 and have been married two years later. Perry, whom Kim calls “the middle of my universe,” was born in 2018. They bought a house on one of many many programs on which the West Florida Tour performs occasions. They have been dwelling the American dream. Kimberly labored in inside design, her ardour since she was a toddler. However on Oct. 21, 2021, their world began to unravel.
Kimberly was at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta after an exhausting couple of weeks of labor in North Carolina. By the point she boarded her flight house, the ache that had began as a abdomen ache nearly paralyzed her. “It took each ounce of energy to only get on the aircraft,” Kimberly remembers. “I simply targeting placing one foot in entrance of the opposite.” She in some way made it by the 90-minute flight house. Christian met her on the airport, and as quickly as she received within the automobile, Kimberly started vomiting profusely.
Regardless of the plain issues, the Bartaloccis headed house; at 39 years previous and in good well being, Kimberly chalked up the ailment to overworking on the commerce reveals she had attended the earlier two weeks. However the ache solely intensified, and after Christian took Perry to preschool, the couple headed to an emergency room in Sarasota.
Kimberly and Christian nonetheless believed she was affected by exhaustion or dehydration. After a CT scan, nevertheless, docs found what they believed was a non-cancerous tumor on Kimberly’s liver. It had burst. She wanted emergency surgical procedure, however the hospital didn’t carry out such procedures. Medical doctors urged a hospital in Largo, 52 miles away. Due to the urgency of the state of affairs, preparations have been made for Kimberly to be airlifted.
The four-hour surgical procedure went properly, and surgeons believed the tumor was non-cancerous. Kimberly spent 5 nights within the hospital and went house with renewed hope that the nightmare was behind her. However when she returned to the hospital every week later for a follow-up go to, she noticed a paper in her file that stated “malignancy.” “I didn’t even know what that phrase meant a few weeks in the past,” she says, “however now I knew it was unhealthy.” In his workplace the next day, the physician confirmed the Bartaloccis’ issues; the tumor was, in actual fact, cancerous. On the similar time the physician believed your complete tumor had been resected.
Then final Jan. 27, throughout a three-month followup go to, Kimberly and Christian acquired devastating information: “You’ve gotten Stage 4 most cancers. It has unfold to your abdomen. We don’t know what number of tumors there are. There are too many to depend.” The phrases hit like a brick. Kimberly and Christian sat in chilly steel folding chairs, unable to talk. The remainder of the assembly was a blur. Remedy choices have been mentioned however not processed. Kimberly and Christian drove house in silence.
The following 11 months have been crammed with promising therapies, solely to be adopted by extra devastating information. The primary journey was to Moffitt Most cancers Middle in Tampa Bay, the place Kimberly acquired a three-month immunotherapy remedy. It wasn’t efficient. The weeks that adopted have been spent exploring remedy choices and navigating the medical insurance coverage forms. Final Might, Kimberly was authorised for a medical trial, however the unwanted effects have been so devastating she needed to cease. Her weight dropped underneath 100 kilos. One other drug was efficient for a short while, however blood assessments revealed the tumor was rising once more.
Christian made golf his escape. “For the primary time in a very long time, I loved being on the golf course,” he says. “I put an excessive amount of stress on myself, and now golf didn’t matter. I made myself take pleasure in it.” The gamers whom Christian was closest with knew he was struggling, however he continued to run the tour.
All through the darkish instances, the Bartolaccis have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of help. Numerous gamers have rallied round them. Kimberly’s boss has been greater than supportive. Family and friends assist with Perry and meals. When her well being wouldn’t enable Kimberly to fly commercially, the mum or dad of a participant who has competed on the West Florida Tour for years loaned his jet for a visit to Houston.
In December, Kimberly was cleared to obtain a drug that was not too long ago FDA-approved. Remedy will start this week. She is also headed to Mexico for a full-body three-week holistic process. The medical payments have piled up, and the out-of-pocket price for the holistic remedy alone might be $40,000.
Final August, the North Florida Part Championship rolled round because it all the time does. There on the first tee was Christian Bartolacci. He had performed within the occasion 4 instances beforehand, however this time could be totally different. Kimberly inspired him to play. They longed for one thing to sit up for, and the chance to safe a visit to nationals provided simply that. Christian opened with an even-par 72, leaving himself three strokes out of a qualifying spot. On the second day, he performed almost flawless golf. Heading to the ultimate gap, he had made three birdies in opposition to only one bogey. The 18th gap on the Tom Watson-designed Conservatory course at The Membership at Hammock Seaside is a 603-yard dogleg-left par-5. Your entire left facet is lined by water. Bartolacci assumed he wanted birdie (it seems a par would have put him in a five-person playoff), and a great drive and layup left him a 80-yard wedge shot. He didn’t hit his finest shot, however he had an opportunity from 26 toes. “I don’t totally imagine in issues like that,” he says, “however all I can let you know is that it broke in a unique path than I believed, and it went in.” For the third time in his profession, Christian will go to the PGA Skilled Championship in late April, with an opportunity to earn his place within the PGA Championship for the primary time. Kimberly plans to be there.
“I used to be the 1 p.c of my age group that contracted most cancers,” she says. “I plan to be the 1 p.c that beat it.”
Kimberly’s associates have arrange a GoFundMe to assist with the mounting medical payments. The hyperlink is right here.