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Birdies for the Brave, Operation Shower celebrate 100th surprise baby shower

January 31, 2018

By Doug Milne, PGA TOUR Staff

Eleven years ago, LeAnn Morrissey honored a simple request of her deployed, military uncle – send a card of thought to four expecting women with deployed husbands. Four cards, four stamps, four notes. Done. 

But, it proved far from done. What began with that action sparked a budding endeavor which would change, enhance and celebrate the lives of thousands on a regular basis. 

Morrissey opted to do more than send a simple note. Instead, she shipped the four women a 'baby shower in a box.' The response was overwhelming. In June of 2007, Morrissey, now the Chief Shower Officer joined forces with Kris Jackson to hold the first unit-wide shower in Ft. Bragg, N.C.

Eventually, the program joined forces with Birdies for the Brave and became known as Operation Shower and, on Tuesday of this week’s Waste Management Phoenix OpenOperation Shower celebrated a milestone by hosting its 100th event. Of those 100, 54 have taken place at a PGA TOUR event and more than five thousand expecting moms with deployed military husbands or significant others have been served. 

“We are a non-profit organization that goes across the country hosting showers for military families,” said Morrissey. “We focus on families that are dealing with a separation due to a deployment or extended training during the pregnancy. We also focus on active-duty moms and bring them all together, usually 40-50 women at a time for these showers.”

The gifts, donated by individuals, corporations and volunteers, range from practical to pampering. They include feeding sections, clothing sections, reading sections, as well as playtime sections. As welcome as the physical gifts are, the greatest element to emerge from the showers lies in the opportunity for these women to find comfort and solace from other women in the same situation. Many times, these women give birth to their children without their spouse by their side. 

“I had no idea what to expect when I came to my first Operation Shower in 2013,” said Alicia Roseler, who went from 2013 honoree to 2018 Shower volunteer. “I thought we would be in the back of a warehouse somewhere, maybe with some tables. I had no idea what to expect. So, when I walked in, it was so awesome. They give out so many gifts and everyone is so grateful for it.”

“For women who are experiencing a new baby and whose spouses are deployed or soon to be deployed, the impending arrival of a child can be both exciting and stressful,” said Morrissey. “Operation Shower was created specifically because military moms are typically the ones to hold it all together at home. For everything they do at home while their spouses are deployed to another part of the world, these moms deserve our support, our thanks our love and an opportunity to celebrate together.”

“These events allow deployed spouses who are in the same position to be in the same place,” said Roseler. “Our base, Luke Air Force Base, is very big and we don’t have any place where this would happen any other time. So, it’s a big deal for spouses in similar situations to be here and connect with each other. When military families make friends, they’re friends for life, because you just really can’t understand it unless you’re there.”

“This is something my wife saw at a TOUR event years ago when were pregnant with Zoe,” said 2010 Waste Management Phoenix Open champion, Hunter Mahan. “The idea that I wouldn't be there for this amazing time really spoke to us. It's got to be a stressful time for these women who are holding down the fort when their husbands aren't here. So, it's a time to give them some praise and some love and some joy and hopefully give them some stuff that will make that transition from being pregnant to being a mother and being a family a lot easier.”

“I think it's amazing,” said expecting mom Raquel Gidcumb. “We’re just here to help support our husbands and they put something like this together for us? I’m amazed. As soon as I walked in, my eyes started watering because I was just like, just blown out of the water with how much effort was put together for this group of ladies.”

“It’s wonderful that we are here today for out 100th Shower,” said Morrissey. But, for me, it hasn’t ever been about a number of events or milestones. We feel like each shower is an individual shower for each mom.” 

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