For Brian Gay, it was a very quick decision.
A nondecision, really.
In November, following his fifth career PGA TOUR win at the Bermuda Championship, Gay received a congratulatory letter from the Thunderbirds – host organization of this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open – saying they would be making a donation to the charity of his choosing.
Gay and his wife, Kimberly, immediately thought of Camilo Villegas, a four-time TOUR winner. Villegas – a University of Florida product, like Gay – and his wife, Maria, had recently laid their daughter, Mia, to rest. Mia was just 22 months old. Not long after her passing, the Villegas family started a foundation in her name, Mia’s Miracles.
“Our hearts go out to Camilo and Maria,” Gay said, “and our family wanted them to feel supported in their journey of persevering and making a difference in the world – through Mia’s memory.”
The best efforts of the doctors at the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami couldn’t save Mia, who was diagnosed with high-grade glioneuronal tumors on her brain and on her spine last March.
“It’s tough to describe, obviously, the love you feel as a parent,” Camilo said to PGATOUR.COM’s Helen Ross in November. “And then when you started interacting with her and she’s just giving you so much love and energy, it’s awesome.
“That’s why I’m actually so thankful about not playing golf during those months. You know, my shoulder (injury) happened for a reason. … It’s not what we wanted, but, hey, I got to enjoy Mia for 22 months. If I would have been playing golf, you know how our schedules are, busy and crazy.”
Mia died on July 26. Her parents, though, are determined that Mia’s life will have meaning beyond the 22 short months and two hours that the toddler spent on this earth.
The mission of Mia’s Miracles is to provide small blessings with large impacts, bringing smiles and positivity to children and families facing challenging circumstances.
Mia’s Miracles very first fundraiser, Mia’s Morning Walks, raised over $80,000 with the support of friends around the world. In addition, their Grant a Christmas Miracle initiative raised another $20,000 to provide children and families in Colombia, where Maria and Camilo were both born, with a memorable Christmas.
“I’m sad, of course,” Maria said. “I have days where it’s so hard and I miss her physical presence all the time, but I know I’ll be OK. I know we’ll be fine, and I know we’ll just honor her name.
“That’s our mission now.”
To learn more about the mission, please visit www.mias-miracles.org.