Military Appreciation Day at THE PLAYERS Championship is a hallowed tradition, and this year’s tournament took the festivities to a whole new level. Capping off a day that included military hospitality in the Birdies for the Brave Patriots’ Outpost military-exclusive hospitality chalet and a Callaway Warrior Club Fitting experience for local wounded heroes, more than 25,000 fans and military guests packed the iconic 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass for the annual Military Appreciation Day celebration.
The Jacksonville Children’s Chorus kicked off the ceremony by singing the national anthem, accompanied by a flyover by the 125th Fighter Wing, Florida Air National Guard. Also highlighting the event, General Joseph Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau and military advisor to the Secretary of Defense, provided remarks, as did PGA TOUR player Rickie Fowler – who surprised wounded hero Major Christopher Dempsey, U.S. Army (retired) with a brand new car and a $25,000 donation to the charity he founded, Veteran Legal Aid, on behalf of THE PLAYERS. Also during the ceremony, Colonel Len Loving and his wife, Suzie, founders of Five Star Veterans Center, were surprised with a $50,000 donation to their non-profit organization, which was selected as THE PLAYERS Charity of the Day on Military Appreciation Day. Following the ceremony, fans were treated to a performance by country music artist Jon Pardi.
Earlier in the day, General Lengyel visited the NBC broadcast booth and commented about the PGA TOUR’s long-standing support for our U.S. Armed Forces. To watch General Lengyel’s interview, click here.
In all, more than 20,000 military guests visited the Patriots’ Outpost throughout tournament week, where military guests enjoyed premium views, complimentary food and beverages, an opportunity to share camaraderie, and several special activities – including a visit by PGA TOUR player and Birdies for the Brave Player Supporter Cameron Champ. Other military outreach and appreciation activities taking place during the week included a veterans’ job fair; an Operation Shower group baby shower for military moms-to-be whose spouses are deployed, or who are active duty themselves; an opportunity for active duty military members to caddie for PGA TOUR players during the Pro-Am; and special experiences and VIP access for military families.
To learn more about Birdies for the Brave and the PGA TOUR players who actively support the program, please visit www.birdiesforthebrave.org or follow them on Facebook.