Players Championship officials didn't come to the front steps of the Jacksonville City Hall on Friday just to make an announcement. 

They came bearing gifts — very large ones, on wheels. 

"It's very difficult to put in words what we mean by giving back, so I'm going to step it up a notch," said 2018 Players General Chairman Damon Olinto after making the formal announcement that the PGA Tour's marquee event had surpassed $100 million in charitable giving in Northeast Florida since it came to the area in 1977. 

With that signal, four vehicles of varying sizes were driven slowly up Duval Street before rolling to a stop in front of the groups to which they were donated: a handicapped-accessible van for Hart Felt Ministries, an outreach program for senior citizens; 15-passenger vans for the Police Athletic League and the Jacksonville School for Autism; and a 33-passenger van for the Jacksonville Children's Chorus. 

When members, volunteers and adult leaders of those groups saw their organization's names on the sides of the vehicles and realized what it meant, cheers erupted and tears flowed. 

Michelle Dunham, executive director for the School for Autism, needed to compose herself before expressing what the gift means to her students. 

"It's really hard to put in words right now," she said, wiping tears. "We've been trying for so long to support our children and their vocational needs and get them into the community; and we didn't have a way to do that. This gives us an opportunity for our young students to find employment and be able to engage in the community. They've given us wheels to make that happen." 

Children's Chorus Artistic Director Darren Dailey no longer will have to scramble to get enough parents to carpool two-dozen or more of his young singers to performances.

"We perform 35 to 40 times a year and this is going to really help," he said. "Who would have thought when we came here we'd receive a bus. There are no words I have right now for such an enormous gift." 

The PAL will use its van to pick kids up and return them to their homes for after-school and summer activities. 

"One of the needs we've always had is quality transportation," said Program Manager Colby Allen. "This is a huge surprise." 

Players Executive Director Jared Rice said it was these kind of moments that validated the efforts of his staff and more than 2,000 volunteers. 

"It's inspiring and humbling to be part of organization whose purpose is to impact the lives of young people and the community in which we live," he said. "The magnitude of the tournament and the support of the community and volunteers and how it comes together is an amazing accomplishment by all of us." 

The Players passed the $100-million barrier with a record $9 million raised through proceeds from the 2018 tournament. It also was announced that a goal of $50 million for child-related educational and health charities set in 2011 had been met, more than two years earlier than the initial 10-year timetable. 

Olinto said the Players and PGA Tour staff, and the volunteers, "are a bunch of great people who give more than you will ever know to do what we do." 

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry issued a proclamation calling it "Players Championship Charity Day." 

"The Players has done so much for the community and the surrounding area," Curry said. "With all the good, charitable work they do, it's an honor to be there with them. It's also a statement of how much they are a part of the fabric of Jacksonville and our metropolitan area." 

Rice said the goals that were reached will only serve to motivate The Players staff and volunteers to go further. 

"It really makes me think of what we can all do together going forward," he said. "We can celebrate and appreciate what we've done but the future can be even more impactful."

Garry Smits: (904) 359-4362