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Jaguars’ Nelson hosts breast cancer awareness event

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by Josh Salman, Florida Times Union

jagsReggie Nelson’s mother never got to see him play in a Jaguars uniform. She never saw his national championship game at the University of Florida.

Now every time Nelson makes a game-changing tackle, forces a fumble or comes up with an interception, he looks up to his mother knowing she’s the foremost reason he accomplished what he has today.

Mary Lakes died of breast cancer in 2006 at age 47.

In her memory, Nelson created the Mary Lakes Invitational Bowl Against Breast Cancer. All proceeds from the tournament will benefit the North Florida affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

The event is set for June 27 at Orange Park Bowl America. Registration is $30 per bowler and will run until June 12. A minimum of four bowlers are required for each team.

“Even if my mother was alive, we would have done this thing anyway,” Nelson said. “It’s what she would have wanted. So many women are affected by breast cancer, and we’ve always tried to be big supporters.”

Although Nelson’s mother went through multiple treatments of chemotherapy and radiation, Lakes never stopped smiling. Despite the pain, she never stopped taking care of Nelson and his three siblings.

After high school graduation, Nelson attended junior college before joining the Gators to remain close to his ailing mother.

“At first I never realized you would lose your hair,” Nelson said. “Every time I would come home, I was just in shock. She was such a great lady. I always just wanted to take care of my mom.”

As a single mother, Lakes worked long hours as a school janitor to keep food on the table. She never complained, never wanted more. The Jaguars safety attributes everything he’s learned in becoming a good man to his mother.

“No matter what, she treated everyone with respect and dignity,” Nelson said. “She truly is my inspiration and role model.”

The invitational is the first benefit Nelson has put together. If it’s successful, he hopes to make it a regular event.

Along with bowling, there will be a silent auction, T-shirt sale and a bake sale. Several other Jaguars players will be at the event, bowling and signing autographs.

“We’re really glad we were finally able to help Reggie get this thing going,” said Tamara Krause, special projects manager for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “This is the first time we’re doing a bowling event, but there’s no better way to honor someone who’s lost a struggle with breast cancer. I’m sure she would be very proud.”


What: A charity bowling tournament to honor Jaguars safety Reggie Nelson’s late mother and benefit the North Florida affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Where: Orange Park Bowl America, 361 Blanding Blvd.

When: Saturday, June 27. Youth check-in begins at 8 a.m., bowling begins at 9 a.m. Adult check-in begins at 1 p.m., bowling begins at 2 p.m. Cost: $30 per bowler with a minimum of four bowlers per team. Registration ends June 12. Registration forms are available at


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