CROMWELL, CT (June 25, 2015)– On Tuesday, the Travelers Championship helped honor local military families when it hosted an Operation Shower group baby shower for 40 military moms-to-be whose spouses are deployed members of U.S. Naval Submarine Base New London and Connecticut National Guard. Sponsored by ConnectiCare, the “Oh, Baby”-themed event took place in The First Tee of Connecticut David & Geri Epstein Learning Center at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, CT, during tournament week. In addition to the Travelers Championship, supporting sponsors included Travelers, The Mahan Foundation and Birdies for the Brave. WTNH-TV reporter and former Good Morning America team member Marysol Castro served as the event’s emcee, with PGA TOUR player Hunter Mahan participating on behalf of the Mahan Foundation.
“We are happy to join with Operation Shower and Birdies for the Brave to show our appreciation to these courageous military moms-to-be,” said Michelle Zettergren, senior vice president and chief sales & marketing officer at ConnectiCare. “Their service and sacrifice to our country deserve to be recognized and we are delighted to do that through this special shower.”
During the shower, the moms enjoyed lunch provided by Applebee’s, had the chance to win prizes, and had an opportunity to share stories and gain comfort from other military moms-to-be in the same situation. The highlight of the event was the presentation of Operation Shower’s signature “Shower in a Box.” Each mom received an array of unique, high-quality products and gift items for mothers and babies that were generously donated. From onesies and baby bottles to clothing, crib bedding, diaper bags and toys, the gifts will go a long way toward raising the spirits of the moms-to-be, many of whom would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience a baby shower.
“For military wives who are expecting a baby and whose spouses are deployed or soon to be deployed, the impending arrival of a child can be both exciting and stressful,” said Operation Shower Founder and Chief Shower Officer LeAnn Morrissey. “Operation Shower was created specifically because typically military moms are the ones who hold it all together at home. Without their spouses by their side, deployed to another part of the world, these moms deserve our support, our thanks, our love and an opportunity to celebrate together.”
TPC River Highlands is located at One Golf Club Road in Cromwell, CT. The Travelers Championship will be held June 22-28, where the best professional golfers in the world will vie for a $6.4 million purse. For tickets and more information, please visit www.travelerschampionship.com.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – It’s hard to imagine that injuries sustained during combat could actually save one’s life; but that is exactly what happened to retired U.S. Army Sergeant Phillip Hall – one of two wounded veterans who had the opportunity to participate in Birdies for the Brave’s Callaway Warrior Club Fitting Program during the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind this week, where they were fitted with their own set of custom clubs compliments of Callaway Golf. Hall was seriously injured during his deployment to Iraq in 2008, when a mortar attack knocked him from the top of his vehicle – compressing his spine and causing significant lung damage and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). While being treated in Germany, doctors discovered that Hall had stage 3 thyroid cancer. He was subsequently treated for his injuries as well as the cancer, and retired from the Army in 2009.
“It turned out to be a blessing,” said Hall, who now works as a finance manager at an automotive dealership in Montecello, AK. “I feel grateful to be alive, and am truly appreciative for the opportunity to be part of the fitting. It’s a great feeling to be recognized for your service, and is really an honor to be out here today.”
Former Army National Guard Sergeant Michael Stafford was equally appreciative for the opportunity to participate in the fitting as part of his ongoing rehabilitation from injuries sustained during his deployment in Iraq as a tank commander. While working as part of a security element that conducted house raids to seize weapons and flush out insurgents, Stafford’s Humvee hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), which blew a hole in the vehicle. The explosion also tore off his leg at the left knee, and left him with PTSD. Stafford spent the next year recovering, first at an Iraqi field hospital before being transferred to a hospital in Germany, and then Walter Reed Army Medical Center near Washington, D.C. As part of his physical and psychological rehabilitation, Stafford began playing golf and using his uplifting, positive attitude to help other wounded veterans heal through the game. He has since won many club championships and spearheaded numerous charitable efforts on behalf of wounded veterans.
“Golf has been my rehab…an outlet for getting rid of demons,” said Stafford, who currently works in golf course maintenance at Okolona (MS) Country Club. “Being out here today among all of these phenomenal PGA TOUR players is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I am very grateful for the opportunity.”
DUBLIN, Ohio (June 1, 2015) – For PGA TOUR players, having the opportunity to be fitted for clubs on-site at tournaments nationwide is par for the course; but for two Ohio-area combat-wounded veterans, it’s a dream come true. During The Memorial Tournament Presented By Nationwide at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, OH, Callaway Golf continued its long-standing support for wounded veterans by fitting Purple Heart recipients Army Staff Sergeant Jason Gibson and Marine Lance Corporal Danny Ruck with their own custom set of Callaway clubs as part of Birdies for the Brave’s Callaway Warrior Club Fitting Program. The experience proved to be extremely meaningful for these American heroes, both of whom were seriously injured during tours of duty in Afghanistan.
Army Staff Sergeant Gibson was assigned to a dismounted patrol on route clearance mission with the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan when he stepped on a hidden improvised explosive device (IED). The blast resulted in catastrophic injuries to both legs, a deep wound in the right forearm and the amputation of the tip of his left index finger. Following medical evacuation to Kandahar Airfield Hospital and then Bagram Air Force Base, Jason was treated in Landstuhl, Germany, where doctors worked unsuccessfully to salvage his right leg. Ultimately, his injuries resulted in the loss of both legs. He is currently a student at Ohio State University and lives in Marysville, OH, with his wife, Kara, and newborn daughter.
Also participating in the fitting was Marine Lance Corporal Danny Ruck. He was injured while on assignment as an Infantry Assaultman with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, Weapons Company, CAAT Platoon in Afghanistan in 2009, when his Humvee ran over a pressure plate improvised explosive device (IED). The blast lifted the Humvee 10 feet into the air and into a nearby ditch. Upon regaining consciousness, Danny provided security for his squad while his Corpsman treated his fellow Marines. Once everyone made it to another vehicle, pressure dressings were applied to his legs and a tourniquet applied to his right arm. Following medical evacuation to a hospital where he received medical treatment for his injuries, Danny was flown to Camp Bastion, a NATO base in Afghanistan, where he spent nearly three months receiving medical treatment and recovering. As a result of the blast, Danny was left with shrapnel in both legs and his right arm, second degree burns and a permanently broken lower vertebra and tail bone, as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). He currently works in law enforcement for the Clermont Country Sheriff’s Office and lives in Amelia, OH, with his wife, Megan, and two children.
“Both of these American heroes embody true courage and heroism, and it was very gratifying to see how much they enjoyed this experience,” said Mike Girkin, Callaway Golf Company. “We are honored to work in partnership with the PGA TOUR and Birdies for the Brave to express our sincere gratitude and give something back to these courageous American heroes, who have sacrificed so much to help keep America safe and free.”
The Callaway Warrior Club Fitting program is just one of many military outreach initiatives that are part of Birdies for the Brave, a military outreach initiative dedicated to honoring and showing appreciation to the courageous members of our U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Named in 2012 by the White House one of the top 20 charities that support military families, Birdies for the Brave was created in 2006 by PGA TOUR player Phil Mickelson and his wife, Amy, to support combat-wounded veterans. The PGA TOUR subsequently adopted Birdies for the Brave, and expanded it to include a wide variety of military outreach and appreciation efforts during PGA TOUR tournaments, as well as fundraising events conducted at the TOUR’s TPC Network of clubs – an effort that has raised more than $14 million for 11 military homefront groups that are supported by TOUR players. To learn more or make a donation, visit www.birdiesforthebrave.org or follow them on Facebook.
IRVING, Texas – The AT&T Byron Nelson helped two combat-wounded veterans emulate what it’s like to be a professional golfer on the PGA TOUR when it provided the two with the unique opportunity to be fit with their own set of custom golf clubs thanks to the generosity of Callaway Golf. Part of Birdies for the Brave’s Callaway Warrior Club Fitting Program, the fitting took place on Monday of tournament week on the practice facility at TPC Four Seasons at Las Colinas in Irving, TX, adjacent to the Callaway equipment truck, where TOUR players are fitted with clubs on-site at tournaments nationwide.
In addition to the fitting, the heroes had an opportunity to get some tips from TOUR players including Danny Lee, Sang-Moon Bae, Andres Gonzalez, John Rollins and Kelly Kraft, as well as learn how the Callaway staff works with each player to customize their club.
“I am very appreciative to Callaway Golf and Birdies for the Brave for this opportunity,” said Purple Heart recipient Army Sergeant Justin Pullin following the fitting. “It was an amazing experience and the fact that these two organizations do so much to give back is really wonderful.”
Pullin was severely injured while on a route clearing mission with the 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad, Iraq, when his tank was hit by an explosively formed penetrator (EFP). Pullin was covered in diesel fuel and lit on fire, resulting in severe burns to more than half of his body and immune system failures which resulted in him being placed on life support for three weeks. Once off life support, Pullin developed septic knee, an inflammation of the joint due to infection, and had three surgeries to salvage his leg. He resides in Belton, TX, with his wife and three children.
Joining Pullin in the fitting was Air Force Staff Sergeant Jason Wakefield, who suffered PTSD, ankle injuries, degenerative disc disease and chronic asthma as a result of burn pit smoke inhalation from training explosions and from an improvised explosive device (IED) blast during his deployment in Afghanistan in 2008. He continued his deployment and transitioned to Air Force Reserves before being medically separated in 2012. Wakefield currently resides in Fort Worth with his wife and foster children.
“This was truly a fantastic experience with these two remarkable warriors,” said Callaway Golf Steve Mata. “It was very gratifying to see how much they enjoyed the fitting, as well as how much the TOUR players enjoyed the opportunity to interact with them and personally express their gratitude for their service and sacrifice.”
The Callaway Warrior Club Fitting program is just one of many military outreach initiatives that are part of Birdies for the Brave, a military outreach initiative dedicated to honoring and showing appreciation to the courageous members of our U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Named in 2012 by the White House one of the top 20 charities that support military families, Birdies for the Brave was created in 2006 by PGA TOUR player Phil Mickelson and his wife, Amy, to support combat-wounded veterans. The PGA TOUR subsequently adopted Birdies for the Brave, and expanded it to include a wide variety of military outreach and appreciation efforts during PGA TOUR tournaments, as well as fundraising events conducted at the TOUR’s TPC Network of clubs – an effort that has raised more than $15 million for 11 military homefront groups that are supported by TOUR players. To learn more or make a donation, visit www.birdiesforthebrave.org or follow them on Facebook.