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Military moms-to-be showered with gifts, support at Birdies for the Brave event

November 30, 2012

By Doug Milne, PGA TOUR staff

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla.- As part of the Birdies for the Brave weekend at TPC Sawgrass, Amy Mickelson, wife of World Golf Hall of Fame member Phil Mickelson, and Cathy Justice, wife of The Greenbrier's Jim Justice, hosted a group baby shower on Friday, November 30 for 28 military moms-to-be whose spouses are deployed members of the U.S. Navy. 

Collectively expecting 31 little ones, the ladies were treated to a morning brunch, filled with love, support and hopefully an understanding that they are not alone, despite the temporary absence of their spouse. There were also surprises for the ladies, in the form of donated baskets filled with gifts. The contents of the baskets were made possible by groups and individuals in nearly each of the 50 states.

Operation Shower got its start in 2007, with the intent to ease the stress associated with deployment for military families. In 2010, Operation Shower joined forces with the PGA TOUR and Birdies for the Brave. Before that marriage, it had managed to shower its 300th expectant mom, despite a bank account containing just $500. When the TOUR came on board, it did so with a gift of $15,000. And on Friday at TPC Sawgrass, Operation Shower was able to celebrate its 1000th mom.

Feeling alone in the world can at times be a challenge. Being alone for two can seem a deafening silence. The objectives of Operation Shower are to extend love, support, camaraderie and gratitude. When each of those elements converge, the intended result is for these women to feel less alone, less overwhelmed. The idea is for them to face each new day knowing they are anything but on their own.   

“The special thing about today is that we’re here to recognize the heroes in this room, those responsible for holding together the military family,” said co-host Amy Mickelson. “While their husbands are away protecting our country, these women are here, having to be incredibly strong and independent in what is often a very emotional time. These women need to be honored and respected. They are so very inspiring.”  

“It’s an honor to be here today and see these young ladies and share in what they are experiencing,” said co-host Cathy Justice. ”They’ve learned to cope under sometimes tough situations, which is what makes it all the more special to be here and recognize these women today.”

As with any new endeavor, there exists the element of the unknown, wrought with both enthusiasm and trepidation. And for at least a few hours Friday, Operation Shower built upon the enthusiasm in these expecting women, with the hope of it transcending into tomorrow and the next day. And into the day the children are born. And until the day their husbands return safely home.   

“This has been a blessing,” said Susan Parks, who is scheduled for delivery via cesarean next week. “None of us anticipated a baby shower like this. You think about friends and family doing something nice for you and your baby, but this is coming from people we don’t know.  Operation Shower and Birdies for the Brave have made us feel like family here today.”

“It looks like a wedding. There are just so many beautiful things,” said Nicole Johnson of King’s Bay, Ga. Johnson, who is expecting the couple’s first child in February, has been without her husband for 17 weeks. “Things like this today help us understand that we are not alone. We have the support of the other wives. That makes all the difference in the world.”

A world that will soon welcome 31 new blessings.


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