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Victoria Veator (MIAA) was playing for much more than a championship at this week’s Girls’ Junior Championship. Veator, 15, spent part of her weekend leading up to this Women’s Championship by putting together rainbow-colored ribbons in honor of Mia Villegas, the daughter of PGA TOUR pro Camilo Villegas, who tragically died on July 26 at just 22 months old after a battle with brain and spinal cancer.
“We were able to meet her last March,” Victoria said of Mia. “We went to lunch with them, and she was just such a sweetheart. I know it’s a really tough time for the family right now, but we just wanted to show as much support as we can. Even if it’s just a small ribbon it’s nice to have my friends out here wearing it on their hats and putting it on their bags.”
Victoria and her parents Jim and Irene made about 60 ribbons on Sunday afternoon for this week, a project which took about two hours.
The connection between the Veator and Villegas families have run deep ever since the 2009 Deutsche Bank Championship, which took place at TPC Boston in Norton. Victoria, who was just four years old at the time, walked hand in hand with Camilo up the fourth fairway and onto the green. Five months later their paths crossed again, this time at the CVS Charity Classic in Rhode Island. Camilo, remembering his friend Victoria, again took her up the fairway with him, this time teeing up a ball for her and letting her hit one of his wedges.
“Ever since then he’s been like her uncle,” Jim Veator said. “Maria and Camilo are a great couple, They’ve always just been so close with us.”
Included in that relationship is also an unlikely new best friend for the Veator family, a foster dog the Villegas’ cared for under their own roof.
“Camilo kept selling it on us how good the dog was,” Jim said. “He would say how well behaved it was. Well two months later, he jetted the dog up to us and we now own their foster dog, Buddy.”
The ribbons signify Mia’s love of rainbows, and also are a way to honor her legacy as a bright and joyful light to everyone around her. It’s also a legacy that is definitely on Victoria’s mind as she competes.
“I played a Challenge Cup event last week, and they were in my mind the entire time,” Victoria said. “I was lucky enough to win and I felt like that was all for Mia. This week especially too is for Mia and the Villegas’.”
The Villegas family has set up a foundation in Mia’s honor called “Mia’s Miracles,” and the Veator family plans to continue to support their friends in any way they can.
“We’ve donated, we’re going to post about it on all of our social media platforms and be able to spread awareness,” Victoria said. “It’s a great cause for them, for Mia, and for children going through similar situations.”