THE PLAYERS Championship, Operation Shower salute military mothers-to-be


Tamara Ramos is new to the First Coast. A Pennsylvania native, Ramos relocated here with her husband, Naval Lt. Luis Ramos, and their 3-year-old daughter, Lelia, who will soon become a big sister.

“My family is all up north,” said Ramos, whose husband is currently deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush. “So, it’s just me and Lelia when he’s deployed.”

On Sunday, however, Ramos had an opportunity to meet and socialize with 34 other women in the same boat, when The PGA Tour and Birdies for the Brave joined with Operation Shower to host a group baby shower for military mothers-to-be. Held May 7 at the Birdies for the Brave Patriots Outpost at TPC Sawgrass, the shower was an early Mother’s Day celebration for dozens of expectant mothers, many of whose spouses are currently deployed.

In addition to enjoying a sit-down luncheon, guests received Operation Shower’s signature Shower-In-A-Box – gifts of high-quality products for the moms and babies provided by sponsors and donors.

“We are really honored to be able to shower these expectant moms,” said THE PLAYERS Championship Executive Director Jared Rice, who attended the event with his wife, Sheila. “It’s a small thing we can do to repay those who are sacrificing so much.”

Organizers noted that Sunday’s event was the 50th such shower the PGA Tour had organized in collaboration with Operation Shower.

Event host Tabitha Furyk added that she and her husband – PGA Tour golfer Jim Furyk – got involved with Operation Shower when the PGA Tour began hosting events. The Jim and Tabitha Furyk Foundation has since supported the effort as well.

“We got involved with the first PGA Tour shower and we just fell in love with the event,” Furyk told the Recorder.

During the shower, Furyk told guests that she and her husband used to travel frequently before their two children were born.“When that happened, our life changed,” she said. “I cannot imagine the sacrifices you ladies go through, having your husbands away for so long. We really wouldn’t have the lives we do without those who are protecting our freedom.”

As volunteers filed into the Patriots Outpost bearing boxes of gifts and began presenting them to expectant mothers, those in attendance expressed their gratitude to Furyk, the PGA Tour and Operation Shower for hosting the event.

“We are very appreciative that they take the time to recognize not just those that serve, but their families as well,” said Capt. David Yoder, commanding officer of Naval Station Mayport. “It makes them feel special.”Those sentiments were echoed by the military moms-to-be.

“This means a lot,” said a tearful Jessica Marchese, who is awaiting the birth of twin girls next month while her husband, Kyle Marchese, is deployed aboard the USS George H.W. Bush. “He’s been deployed for five months now, and this is a wonderful event. It makes you feel really, really special.”

Middleburg military mom Jessica Parkins agreed. “It’s a great way to give back to military families,” said Parkins, who is expecting her second child in September and whose husband, Jacob, is deployed on the USS Hue City. “And the gifts really help.”

For Tamara Ramos, the opportunity to meet and socialize with others who understand the challenges of being a military mom was even more special.

“It’s really fun for me to be able to be here with all the other military moms,” she said. “I feel very loved being here.”

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