By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Golf was hardly the only activity drawing “oohs” and “aahs” from the gallery last week at Riviera Country Club.
Tuesday afternoon in the clubhouse, 40 new or expectant mothers, who are all active military or married to service members, had a group baby shower thrown in their honor by Operation Shower as part of the PGA Tour’s “Birdies for the Brave” military outreach initiative.
PGA Tour pro Hunter Mahan, in town to play the Northern Trust Open, where he was grouped the first two rounds with fellow American Chris Kirk and Colombian Camilo Villegas, attended the luncheon with his wife Kandi (a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader) and their 2-year-old daughter Zoe.
In 2012, the couple established the Mahan Foundation, which supports numerous initiatives focused on health and wellness, children and the military.
“When we had our first [baby] we never realized how much stuff you need,” said Kandi, who is 21 weeks pregnant with their third child, a girl they’re thinking of naming Hazel. “Reading to our kids is one of the most fun things about being a parent,” Hunter added.
The Mahan Foundation donated a glider so, as Kandi said, “you can read to your children and rock your baby to sleep.”
Throughout the two-hour event, a smile never left the face of Diamond Holman, whose husband is deployed in Okinawa, Japan and who is living at Port Hueneme Naval Base with her 2-month-old boy Joelle.
She and her fellow military moms were presented with gift boxes full of toys, books and clothes for their newborns.
“This is awesome… It’s fun to be pampered like this,” Alison Steiner said while carefully unfolding a baby golfer outfit for her fellow moms to see. “My husband is a pilot on an aircraft carrier and our daughter is due in July.”
Sitting at the same table was Marta Herrington, holding her two-week old son Ezra. Her husband is also deployed overseas and, like Steiner, she is also residing in Point Mugu.
More items were raffled off and prizes were awarded to mothers who correctly answered baby-related questions ranging from “What month of the year has the least amount of births?” to “What foreign country has the most generous maternity leave?”—all to the tune of the Jeopardy theme.
Next, 20-year-old Nashville recording artist Calli Rodi performed her song “If I Close My Eyes,” which she hopes “mothers and young children will hear in a Disney movie someday.”
“The goal is to make mothers feel as if their best friend is hosting the shower for them,” Operation Shower Chief Event Planner Amy Belle Isle said. “We’ve received so much positive feedback. We travel around the country and do this.”
Operation Shower was founded in 2007 when LeAnn Morrissey had the idea to send a “baby shower in a box” to four expectant military moms whose spouses were deployed.
Soon after, Operation Shower hosted its first unit-wide baby shower at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Partnerships with the PGA Tour and the Toys “R” Us Children’s Fund followed and the organization has since hosted showers for thousands of military families.
Among the mothers in attendance to support last Tuesday’s event was Palisadian Patty Smith, wife of retired pro beach volleyball player Sinjin Smith. The oldest of their three sons, Hagen, plays on the UCLA men’s volleyball team.
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