McKenzie's Moment

04/01/2022 06:50 AM By Lisa Anderson
The Gray family, Submitted Photo
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McKenzie's Moment

Impacting the Future for Local Mothers & Infants

When golfers and celebrities gather at Golden Ocala, this April, for the McKenzie’s Moment 4th Annual Celebrity Golf Invitational, they will honor one young life and help many more.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Ryan Gray, his wife Kait, and their young daughter Palmer moved to Ocala, when he became Director of Golf at Golden Ocala in the fall of 2017.

Their second daughter, McKenzie Ryan Kearney Gray, was born on May 22, 2018, at 28 weeks, due to a placenta abruption. Despite medical intervention and excellent care, McKenzie passed from this life just three days later.

“We were new to Ocala, and the way people supported us was incredible,” says Ryan of those dark days.

The Grays found healing in creating something that not only honors McKenzie, but also ensures that her brief life impacts many others. “Kait and I have always been around and enjoyed the game of golf, so we thought, what better way to commemorate her?” says Ryan. “Being in the golf business, it was like second nature to do this.”

And so, the couple created their own 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to honor their daughter’s legacy. McKenzie’s Moment has raised over $500,000 in the past four years. Since the first charity golf tournament held in 2019, each subsequent year has seen an increase in funds raised and more celebrities coming out to support it.

Among local charities McKenzie’s Moment has benefited is Project Hope of Marion County, which helps homeless women and their children.

In February 2022, an additional $1.7 million donation from Michael and Kathleen Smith of Ocala made possible the McKenzie Kearney Gray Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) program at Advent Health Ocala. “This program will allow mothers and babies of high-risk pregnancies to get specialized pre- and post-natal care here without having to leave Marion County,” explains Ryan. “Ground for the building at Advent Health, which will be named after McKenzie, will be broken in the fall of 2022. The hospital thinks this will help 900 families a year.”

Some three dozen celebrities are committed to the McKenzie’s Moment 4th Annual Celebrity Golf Invitational, including big names from the NFL, MLB, NHL, and of course, the world of professional golf.

“Because of running McKenzie’s Moment, she’s never gone. People ask me about it when they see the logo and they say, ‘I’m sorry,’ but I thank them for asking. For me, this is a little bit of therapy,” says Ryan. “Our goal is for everyone to come out, have a fun time commemorating McKenzie, and help raise funds to help women and children in need.”

McKenzie’s Moment 4th Annual

Celebrity Golf Invitational Golden Ocala|April 24-25, 2022 |
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