The history of creating the M.O.M.S. PARK


September 24, 2011

Memories of Missing Smiles is proud to announce the Grand Opening of the M.O.M.S. Park at Jervey Gantt.    We hope that you will make plans to visit very soon! The lush landscaping of the butterfly garden and the relaxing sounds of our water features, provide a peaceful and natural setting to honor and  reflect on the beautiful memories of our children. We are forever grateful for the contributions made by so many  businesses and members of our community.  WE have created a place to be very proud of!



February 2011


Over the past few months many great things have taken place to transform the Park into a reality!  Since the original clearing operation and selective tree removal work, M.O.M.S.  has been working with many local supporters to plan and implement the next activities to the construction of the Park.

Lew Myhre, of Ocala Landscape Management, Inc. has taken the lead in designing the landscape and irrigation plan for the Park!  The plan was completed in January, and includes an irrigation system utilizing “re-use” or recycled water as a source for the irrigation.  This provision was made available by our partner, the City of Ocala.

Over 60 large trees including live oaks, magnolias, river birch and holly trees are planned to be planted in February to restore the beautiful canopy to provide shade and enhance the natural environment and to establish the planned memorial tree program where trees can be dedicated to a lost child.

Shade Tree Farm, of Morriston, Florida, has generously provided the tree package from their farm.  Shade Tree donated several trees and offered incredible discounts on the rest as a contribution to the creation of the Park.

Florida Irrigation Supply, of Ocala, displayed their generous support through a significant discount on the irrigation material package.  Thanks to Ocala Landscape Management, the main irrigation system has been installed and the tree planting will begin February 11 and be completed by month’s end!

M.O.M.S. is very grateful to Ocala Landscape Management, Shade Tree Farm, and Florida Irrigation Supply for their participation in this phase of the Project!

Oldcastle/ Paver Systems of Florida has stepped up and offered to provide the paver bricks for the memorial walks to be installed at the Park honoring our lost children.  This is yet another incredible act of generosity by supporting businesses that make it possible to complete the Park.

The current focus and activity involves the final design and planning for the water feature, the development of the landscape areas, the entry features and the walkway.  Touch of Paradise, of Ocala, has offered their expertise and guidance with the design and planning for the water feature, which is to include a waterfall, streams and a small reflection pond.   M.O.M.S. is also excited to have Jack Klahm, of Klahm and Sons, Inc. of Ocala, involved in the park project.  Jack is a renowned and award winning master metalsmith , and has offered to donate custom made entry features for the park.  Planning meetings are underway to finalize the plan and begin work in the next 60 days.

The City of Ocala Parks and Recreation continues to be a great partner in this project.  City crews have assisted with site cleanup activities, provisions for irrigation water, potable water and power for the park improvements.  We appreciate the tremendous support from the City.

Over the next 90 days the Park will really take shape and move toward our targeted mid-year completion.  Volunteer opportunities continue to be available and will be posted on the website.  Everyone is invited to participate!

Upcoming events include

  1.       March 5th and  6th, 2011 – Volunteer Day at the Park site. 9:00 am – Noon -  Teams will join together to perform light duty site cleanup activities including brush and limb pickup, minor trimming and general handwork to prepare the site for the next phase of work.  Interested groups and individuals please contact Greg at 454-1801.

  2.       March 25 and 26th, 2011 Southeastern Pro Rodeo at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion will support M.O.M.S. Park again this year with the proceeds of the 50/50 drawing donated to the Park.  Thank you Ruben Lamb!!!

The Park could not be possible without the support, assistance, expertise and generous contributions by so many in our community.  M.O.M.S. thanks everyone for their involvement!  This community will benefit for many years from your generosity!!!






September 29, 2010


A huge thank you goes out to SCI, Chad Cordwin, Phil Howell, Margie Woods Trucking, and Wood Resource and Dick Willett for their efforts in completing the site selective clearing and tree removal at the Park! It was a bigger task than everyone anticipated and we appreciate very much what you all have done for the creation of the Park!


We are now focused on getting our water source in place, whether it will be from the city system or our own well. Since more trees had to come out that we originally anticipated (due to their condition), we are launching a “Tree AdoptionProgram” where significant size trees will be obtained through contributions or hopefully discounted purchase, planted in accordance with the landscape plan developed by Lew Myhre and Phil Howell, and then offered as memorial trees, similar to the other memorial items already available. This we thought will help restore the forest environment that we want to maintain for the Park.

We will be reaching out to all nurseries in the area very soon to introduce this program and solicit participation and support.

The next activities to be accomplished over the next several weeks include:

·         Establish Water source

·         Establish Power source

·         Develop Irrigation plan/system

·         Develop Landscape Plan/ offer landscape zones to local landscape companies

·         Tree source and planting

·         Site cleanup and hand work – brush removal

·         Reflection pond excavation

·         Develop Water Feature design and obtain materials

We will keep you posted as we move forward.



August 18, 2010

Approvals have been granted and the work at the site is about to begin!! After receiving the City’s approval on the Site Plan for the Park, on July 20, 2010 the Ocala City Council and M.O.M.S. Inc. entered into a License Agreement that formalizes the agreement to allow the Park to be created permanently at this site!

During July, volunteer teams gathered at the site and performed selective hand clearing and layout for the walk path, open areas and the butterfly garden for the city to review.

On Thursday, August 12, 2010 the Pre- Construction meeting was held at the site with the city officials. Selective clearing and tree protection was the focus and a detailed plan for creating the improvements while preserving the existing forest and habitat was agreed upon. Work is expected to start during the week of August 23, 2010.

Once the initial clearing is complete, the water feature materials will be moved to the site.

The design for the water feature and landscape zones continues to develop with the help of wonderful volunteers.

Over the next few months a lot of progress will be evident at the site. The plan for completion in the Spring of 2011 is still very achievable!


Many great things have happened during the summer to support the creation of the Park!

IHOP Restaurantsin Ocala have been great partners and have offered several special events including free shortstack pancakes and percentage contributions from their sales !

Thanks to everyone who patronized IHOP in support of the Park!

Ayuttaya Thai Cuisine Restaurantin Ocala hosted an evening to support M.O.M.S. on June 21, 2010 and it was a huge success! Sherry provided a wonderful dining experience for all that attended and a significant donation was made to the Park as a result of this event!


The Ocala Jaycees included M.O.M.S. in their God and Country Days event on July 4th, where M.O.M.S. provided an informational display and continued to generate interest in the memorial items available to families and parents who would like to memorialize their lost child.

Garrett Rowlandhas achieved Eagle Scout as a result of his project that involved the design and construction of custom bird houses for the Park!! We are extremely proud of Garrett for this accomplishment and his choice of a project that will benefit the Park!


Another young man from Ocala, Brandon Allen, has also chosen our Park for his Eagle Project. Brandon is considering constructing an information kiosk that will be featured at the entry to the Park!

Orders for memorial items including benches, rocks, and pavers continue to come in which shows that many families are becoming aware of the Park and it’s purpose.


The memorial items are being made to order and safely stored until the appropriate time for installation. Anyone interested in an update on your ordered item can contact M.O.M.S. and we will be happy to give you a status on your item.



May 21, 2010

Site Plan approval was granted by the City of Ocala on April 29, 2010 !! A special thanks goes to Joe London, Civil Engineer, for his excellent work developing the plan and meeting the requirements of the City of Ocala Engineering Department.

Phil Howell, Arborist for the Project, assisted London Engineering with the tree preservation issues important to both the City and the mission for the Park.

Preliminary layout work has begun at the site to locate the walk path, reflection pond and water feature in preparation for the selective clearing process. Work activities are being planned and will be announced soon on this website.

Many orders for Memorial Items (paver bricks, garden stones, and benches) have been placed, taking advantage of the preconstruction price discount. Chad Stout, Owner of C-Spray Glass Blasting, Inc. is providing the artwork and etching services. Chad confirms each order for details once it is placed and offers to give updates on the status of any orders upon request.  Once memorial items are made they are safely stored until the appropriate time for installation.

The M.O.M.S. Board of Directors meets monthly to discuss progress, fundraising and volunteer opportunities, financial status, public relations, sponsorship recruiting, and other current topics and issues.

A Corporate Sponsorship program is being launched to encourage local businesses and corporations to support the creation of the Park through financial contributions and in return receive permanent recognition at the Park. .John Cervellera of Regions Bank is leading this effort to create and oversee the program for M.O.M.S. John has been a huge help in developing this idea!! We are very grateful for his involvement and high energy  Anyone interested in becoming a Corporate Sponsor please contact John at Regions Bank at 352-895-5154 or email address

On April 29, 2010 M.O.M.S. Board of Directors and our Forest Area Volunteer Margaret Schmit , presented the Memories of Missing Smiles Memorial Park to a group at the Forest Library in East Marion County. The event was well received and several families who have experienced the loss of a child attended and are now aware of this beautiful project, and how it will help them heal and cope with their loss.

On Sunday, May 16,2010, the Damselfly Family Theater presented "Tom Sawyer" and donated 25% of the proceeds to benefit the creation of the Park!!

Thanks to Florida Express Environmental Services of Ocala the stone material for the planned water feature is being provided as a contribution!! We are very grateful to John and Michael Paglia for their incredible generosity! This is a significant milestone towards making the Park a reality since the water feature is a key component to the design of the Park. M.O.M.S. will now work toward identifying a team to disassemble, relocate, and erect this beautiful stone feature at it’s new location.

Another major component of the water feature is the pump and piping system that will be required to circulate the water from the pond to the waterfall. Lana Petry, of Delta Fountains in Jacksonville, has offered to provide the required design and engineering for the system as a contribution !!

Beautiful landscaping is planned for specific areas of the Park. Florida native, drought tolerant low maintenance plantings are being designed by Lew Myhre of Ocala Landscape Management of Ocala as a contribution!! 

Small "landscape zones" will be planned and offered to area landscape companies for adoption 

M.O.M.S. will invite local companies to plant and maintain these small areas and have their firm acknowledged by everyone who visits the Park for their wonderful generosity and support for families and friends who have experienced the loss of a child

We are very excited to announce that Joan Saia from IHOP Restaurant in Ocala has offered to raise funds to support the creation of the Park!!

On Monday, May 24, 2010, IHOP will donate 10 % of their daily sales ( at both Ocala locations) to M.O.M.S.!!

You can show your support for this beautiful park by patronizing IHOP on this day, and then on June 7, July 12, and August 9, 2010, when IHOP will offer FREE SHORTSTACK pancakes all day and encourage their patrons to donate to M.O.M.S. Park!!  IHOP Restaurants are located on South Pine Avenue and West S.R.200 in Ocala.

On Monday,June 21, 2010, Ayuttaya Thai Cuisine has offered to host an evening to support M.O.M.S.!! Ayyutaya will donate 10 % of the sales that evening toward the creation of the Park!! 

Please come and enjoy the awesome Thai experience at Ayuttaya in support of Memories of Missing Smiles Memorial Park !!

On July 4th, 2010, the Ocala Jaycees God and County Days Event has invited M.O.M.S. to set up an informational display for the public to learn about the Park!! Interested volunteers for this event please contact M.O.M.S. at 352-369-MOMS

The plan for the Park is making great progress !! Your support and helping spread the word will keep the momentum going and ultimately bring this dream to reality.


 April 2, 2010

Many great things have happened over the past several weeks that are helping build momentum for the creation of this beautiful park!!

The Site Plan and Engineering Drawings were submitted to the City of Ocala in February and approval is anticipated to be received early this month.

This will allow for the first phase of the work at the site to begin with selective clearing and underbrush removal. It is desirable to have this work completed early in the spring to take advantage of the growing season for those areas of the park that will ultimately be left natural and are not in the area of the planned improvements.

 Thanks to the efforts of Joe London, Civil Engineer, and Phil Howell, Arborist, all of the trees at the site have been evaluated and identified for species and condition for preservation purposes. It is part of the plan to preserve as many trees as possible for the enjoyment and natural beauty of the park.

As a result of the wonderful turnout and participation at the Ceremonial Groundbreaking held at the site on January 26,2010, many individuals and groups have registered to participate as volunteers for the various committees and teams we have identified including : Fundraising, Public Relations, Landscaping, and Construction.

We appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm and willingness to help create this beautiful park.

Special thanks goes out to the Ocala Jaycees for their continued group volunteer support to M.O.M.S. events over the past several weeks!

On Thursday, February 4th, 2010, Memories of Missing Smiles Memorial Park was added as a beneficiary of the fundraiser Gala that was hosted by John Travolta and Kelly Preston at the premier for John’s new movie "From Paris with Love". This was an exciting surprise for all of us !!

As a result of this event , a silent auction item raised $6,500 for M.O.M.S , but John and Kelly topped it with a personal check for an additional $10,000 !!!

Then on Tuesday March 30, 2010, Kelly Preston hosted the premier of her new movie "The Last Song". Kelly chose Memories of Missing Smiles Memorial Park as one of two beneficiaries of this event , raising an amazing gift of $10,000 towards the creation of the park!!

The M.O.M.S. Organization is very grateful to the Travolta Family for their generous financial support for the Park, and the incredible awareness they have brought by their interest and recognition of the beauty and purpose of this project.

On March 20th,2010, M.O.M.S. was invited to present a display at the H.I.T.S. Horse Show Final Weekend Event in Marion County at the show grounds. This was another great opportunity to raise awareness and raise funds for the park.

On March 27th and 28th, the Southeastern Pro Rodeo was held in Ocala and M.O.M.S. was chosen by Ruben Lamb , Rodeo producer, to benefit from the 50/50 raffle on both nights!!

Thanks to the North Marion High School group, the HOSA Club, led by Ms. Sonja Christmas, and the Ocala Jaycees for helping with ticket sales and hosting the M.O.M.S.display of Park information and memorial items. This event raised over $1,200. towards the creation of the Park!

Thank you Ruben Lamb for your generosity and support!!

The M.O.M.S. Board of Directors was approached by a young man, Garrett Rowland , in January of this year , who learned about Memories of Missing Smiles Memorial Park and wanted to help. He is a Boy Scout and wanted to participate in the park with a project that would help him achieve Eagle Scout!

After discussions and approval from his Scout leader , Garrett will design ,build and install several bird houses and feeders throughout the park to enhance the beauty and create habitat for the birds that are native to this site.

This is a wonderful example of youth participation and we are proud to have Garrett involved and earning his Eagle Scout badge as a result of helping us create the Park!!

In other news, M.O.M.S. received the official notification from the IRS confirming our Non Profit Entity status!!

This was a great surprise since we were expecting the process to extend into mid year.

Thanks to Russell Lindsay , CPA , for all of his efforts to obtain this important documentation!!

Status of the Work at the Park:

The Site Plan is in review with the City of Ocala, and final comments have been received by London Engineering , our Civil Engineer.

It is anticipated that the City will give approval of the Site Plan in April, allowing us to move forward with the selective clearing of the site and start of the improvements.