On Monday, June 23, 2014, Brightspot, along with co-host Jordan Spieth, the 9th ranked golfer in the world, a PGA Tour champion and reigning Rookie of the Year, will present the 3rd Annual Congressional Pro-Am. Since 2012, Brightspot brought together individuals from a wide array of backgrounds to provide a memorable and unique experience at one of the most historic courses in the nation. Now in its third year, the Pro-Am has continued to grow with golfers from The First Tee, Special Olympics, and Feherty's Troops First Foundation joining from coast-to-coast. Read below to learn more about the Special Olympians who will be competing in this year's tournament.
David Curtin, a Special Olympics Virginia athlete from Springfield, VA, was a silver medalist at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece. He also was a gold medalist at the 2010 Special Olympics National Games in Lincoln, Nebraska. David has been a Special Olympics athlete since 1994, and also competes in softball. During an interview about being a World Games golfer, Curtin said, “This is the opportunity of a lifetime. I will get to show that people are not limited by their disabilities.”
Jimmy DeSmedt graduated High School at Porter Ridge High in Indian Trail, NC, and is currently attending South Piedmont Community College where he takes Comp Ed Courses. Jimmy has been playing golf with his Dad since he was about 7. He moved to North Carolina from Michigan in 2007 and has been actively involved with Special Olympics since. Aside from golf Jimmy also plays Basketball and Tennis for Special Olympics. Jimmy is honored to be invited to the Congressional Pro-Am.
Kevin Erickson has competed in and won 5 Special Olympic National Invitational Tournaments and is one of a fortunate few to record a hole-in-one at the NIT. He was the Silver Medalist at the 1999 Special Olympics World Games in Raleigh/Durham N.C. In 2004, Kevin partnered with David Duval against Bob Duval (David’s Dad) and Oliver Doherety, a Special Olympics World Games Gold Medalist in a made for TV Special called “A Tee Time Like No Other”. His other interests include trapshooting, volleyball, table tennis, darts, bowling.
Keith Esbenshade is a Special Olympian from Raleigh, North Carolina. He participates in softball, basketball, golf and tennis. In 2009 his softball team attended the National Gamess in Lincoln, Nebraska and won the Bronze medal. For the last eight years, Keith has been working at North Carolina State at the Student Center keeping the dining area clean. When he is not working, he likes to watch sports, go bowling or to the YMCA to exercise. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves, Carolina Hurricanes and Carolina Panthers. Keith is part of a drama group called STARS and has performed in Grease, Wizard of Oz, Cinderella, and it’s All Greek to Me.
Matthew Gang is a rising 8th grader at St. Marks Catholic School in Vienna, VA. Matthew has been playing golf with his Dad since he was 6 years old. His first competition was last year, where he won the CCF Cup at Country Club of Fairfax (a six week golf contest for young junior golfers). Matthew competes in Skiing (Nastar), Swimming (Dominion League), Basketball (Special Olympics and Junior CYO). Matthew loves sports, singing, all things water and hanging out with his "dudes".
Matt started competing in Special Olympics golf with his Dad, Al, playing alternate shot in 2001. They have since won several State Championships and in 2002 won the National Alternate Shot Championship in Port St. Lucie, FL. In his career, Matt has made three holes-in-one. The latest was in Feb. 2014 at the River Club in Myrtle Beach, SC. Matt has played in Pro-Ams on the Senior Tour, as well as last year’s Pro-Am at the Congressional Country Club. His current handicap at our local Country Club (Fore Sisters Golf Club) in Rawlings, MD, is 15.
Tyler Lagasse graduated in May 2014 with honors from Middlesex Community College with an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts with a Life Science Concentration. He has been accepted to University of Massachusetts Lowell for the fall where he will be pursuing a degree in Environmental Health Sciences with a concentration in Sustainability. He continues to help Special Olympics by giving speeches as a Global Messenger to inspire, inform and motivate people to become involved with SO. He is an 8 time SO State Champ for golf for MA. Tyler will be competing in June at the 2014 USA Games in Princeton, NJ. He also has numerous medals for competing in Alpine Skiing for MA. His hobbies include: journaling, music, bicycling, exercising, classic movies, and drawing.
Skip Martin is a Special Olympics athlete from High Point, NC. Skip plays 18 holes at our state level competition with an average score of 85. Skip has been playing golf for 21 years. He plays golf regularly at Oak Hollow Golf Course in his hometown of High Point, NC. Skip’s favorite professional is Tiger Woods and his favorite Pro Tournament is The Master’s. He also enjoys bowling, video games and basketball.
Ahmad is currently a junior at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro studying in the Beyond Academics program. He has been playing golf with the Special Olympics of Orange County, NC for the past 8 years. His interest in golf came from his father who used to take him along for outings during middle school. He enjoys playing tournaments and is looking forward to playing in the Pro-Am and World Cup of Golf in Helsingor, Denmark in August.
Scott Rohrer from York, SC started playing golf at the age of 7. He has competed at the state and national level in Special Olympics events. He has also played and won several tournaments on a local amateur golf tour. At the 2013 Golf NIT at Stockton Sea View Hotel & Golf Club, he won gold. He currently holds two world records in 18-hole stroke play – a single round of 71 and a tournament record of 221 – both set in 2010 in Lincoln, NE. Scott will be competing in June at the 2014 USA Games in Princeton, NJ. He has also been invited to Denmark to play in the World Cup of Golf this August. When he is not on the golf course he enjoys fishing and bowling.