Honoring our heroes

In honor of Veterans Day 2020, THE PLAYERS Championship team engaged in several outreach initiatives to demonstrate its continued commitment to the more than 150,000 veterans and military members who call northeast Florida home.

A special surprise for Florida’s oldest World War II veteran

102-year-old Sollie Mitchell is Florida’s oldest World War II veteran. The Jacksonville, Florida, resident was first drafted into the Army in 1941 and was the first African American assigned to General Douglas MacArthur’s office as Company Clerk of the 578 Ordinance Ammunition outfit in 1945. Following his military career, Mitchell settled in Jacksonville and worked for the railroad for 35 years. In fact, he worked as the only Pullman car porter on the Freedom Train that took passengers from Jacksonville to the 1963 March on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In 2020, THE PLAYERS had the honor of hosting Mr. Mitchell during the opening ceremonies of the Patriots Outpost on Military Appreciation Day. While there, Mitchell expressed an interest in having his hat signed by a few of the world’s best golfers that week, but when the championship was canceled due to health and safety threats posed by COVID-19, Mitchell’s mission was put on hold. However, THE PLAYERS was undeterred.

THE PLAYERS shipped Mitchell’s hat across the country to the ZOZO Championship to ensure that some of the biggest names on TOUR would sign it, including Mitchell’s favorite golfer, Tiger Woods. The two-time PLAYERS champion and 82-time PGA TOUR winner not only signed Mitchell’s hat, but he even recorded a personal message of gratitude for Mitchell.

Upon learning that Mitchell was going to be recognized at the City of Jacksonville’s Veterans Day breakfast, THE PLAYERS team worked with the Mayor’s team to surprise Mitchell with the hat and signed video:

“I am very very excited,” said Mitchell. “I just want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

A landscaping labor of love

Following the surprise gift for Mr. Mitchell, THE PLAYERS team headed to the Five Star Veterans Center to participate in several landscaping projects at the northeast Florida-based nonprofit that serves veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries and other related mental health issues. Five Star Veterans Center was founded in March 2012 in order to assist veterans in need and ultimately give them the tools and the confidence to re-integrate into society and transition to living independently.

Joining THE PLAYERS staff for this landscaping project were members of the tournament’s volunteer leadership team, or Red Coats, as well as PGA TOUR employees.

Red Coats roll out the red carpet

K9s for Warriors is the nation’s largest provider of service dogs to veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury and/or Military Sexual Trauma. Many people may not realize that K9s for Warriors was actually founded by the stepmom of 1999 PLAYERS Champion and Jacksonville native David Duval.

Every year since 2013, THE PLAYERS has granted funding to K9s For Warriors to sponsor a service canine that is named after the winner of THE PLAYERS. That commitment continued on Veterans Day 2020, when members of THE PLAYERS Red Coats surprised the K9s for Warriors team with a $25,000 donation during a live telethon broadcast.