Hometown Heroes: McKenzie's Moment
A year ago, Ryan and Kait Gray's youngest daughter McKenzie Gray was born at 29 weeks due to a placenta abruption. Mckenzie was transferred from Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala to UF Shands where she lived for three days.
But while Kait was being treated for her complications something caught her family's attention while they were in the NICU.
"They just noticed that all the other babies were by themselves and we didn't know why," said Kait.
That discovery sparked a decision to help those in similar situations.
"We jumped into action sooner than later," said Kait.
And then came McKenzie's Moment - in partnership with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Central Florida, the Gray's are working to make life a little easier for families with sick children.
The Gray's love for the game of golf-inspired the idea to have an annual tournament to raise money. And with Ryan being the Director of Golf at the Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club, it was a perfect match.
"It was very simple for me being in the golf business for so many years and through that gaining so many connections, and with our families being in golf, it just kind of spurred off into last memberships that I used to work with," said Ryan.
The couple raised $100,000 to donate to the Ronald McDonald house.
"Your kids need you and hopefully like everyone at Shands, all the kids that are fighting can have access to their parents," said Kait.
And while emotions are still raw there's Palmer their soon to be three-year-old who brightens their darkest days
But that's not the only thing, Kait says the first bird she saw when McKenzie passed away was a cardinal, she says she knew it was Kenny.
And now the sight of a cardinal is a sign that they're not alone, McKenzie is with them.
"Every time we see a cardinal or she has plenty cardinals, but she always says Kenny, and whenever she sees one, and as she gets a little older, she'll understand a little more where her sister is," said Ryan.
The Gray's are already looking forward to next year. They've announced that the second annual McKenzie's Moment golf tournament will be March 2, 2020, at the Golden Ocala. Until then they're carrying on their daughter's legacy through the work of helping others.