The potential cure comes in the form of a new FDA-approved gene therapy drug called Zolgensma. However, the one-time infusion costs $2.1 million, making it one of the most expensive drugs.
“He needs expensive medicine to keep living and 100 days to get the medicine,” Niemann said. “That's the goal. There have been some cases that they don't live older than 2 years. The younger he is, the better it works.”
Niemann set up a page on Instagram in an effort to raise the money. He has pledged all his earnings for his final two events of the year, the RSM Classic and Mayakoba Golf Classic, along with $5,000 or every birdie and $10,000 for every eagle. Niemann has 15 birdies through three rounds at Sea Island, though too many bogeys to be in the mix. He goes into the final round in a tie for 55th.
He said soccer players in Chile are sharing the news on social media, and Niemann is trying to do his part.
“I thought I could do a big help here in the U.S. because being here on the tour, there is a lot of people that is really interested in this kind of stuff,” Niemann said. “And if I'm able to help Rafita to get his medicine, it would be a dream for me come true.”
Rafita's father is the cousin of Niemann's mother. Niemann said he grew up playing golf with Felipe Calderson during his rise that took him to the Latin American Amateur and his first trip to the Masters as a 19-year-old amateur.
Niemann missed his return to Augusta National last week when he tested positive for the coronavirus and self-isolated for 10 days. He is in the Masters next April from reaching the Tour Championship for the first time.