While Sony was celebrating its 21st year as Title Sponsor of the Sony Open in Hawaii earlier this month, Joy Parker was marking her own milestone: 24 consecutive years volunteering at the tournament. For Joy, a native of Alabama, her annual pilgrimage to Oahu is a labor of love and remembrance.
For six years, Joy and her husband, U.S. Army Colonel Brandon Parker, were stationed on Oahu during his military service. They fell in love with the island and its warm aloha spirit, and even after being reassigned back to Alabama, they returned each year to visit friends and attend the tournament. After her husband’s passing, Joy pledged her support as a volunteer, and began returning each year with her golf group. One year became five years, then 10, and Joy has now become a beloved fixture during tournament week at Waialae Country Club along with her group – which has become affectionately known as the ‘Bama Belles and Bubbas. Each year, a different group joins Joy in trekking to Hawaii to volunteer as a course marshal for the week, after which Joy takes the group on a tour of her favorite must-see spots. This year, Joy was thrilled to bring along 14 retired or active duty service men and women with ties to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL, including four colonels! In addition to her regular duties, Joy enjoys helping out during the tournament’s Birdies for the Brave military outreach activities, paying it forward to other military members and their families. Joy’s reason for volunteering is simple: Charity.
“The most important thing to me is that all of the time and passion we put in benefits so many charities of Hawaii,” says Joy. “I love the Oahu community, and I take a great deal of pride in the fact that the Sony Open has raised more than $18 million for more than 350 local non-profits since 1999.”
Joy’s personal impact has not gone unnoticed. In 2014, for her continued efforts leading the ‘Bama Belles and Bubbas on their annual trip to the Sony Open, Joy was named the tournament’s Volunteer of the Year. She also finished second as the PGA TOUR’s Volunteer of the Year that same year. Joy estimates that in the past 24 years, she has brought more than 300 other volunteers with her to lend their talents and enthusiasm to the Sony Open. Along the way, Joy’s caring spirit, contagious smile and tireless work ethic have inspired countless others to bring their own groups.
Just one Sony Open away from meeting her 25-year goal, Joy shows no signs of slowing down. “Why quit then,” says Joy. “The Sony Open in Hawaii is my second home, and when I’m there, I’m among family.”