On Monday, July 27, 2015, the Brightspot Pro-Am teed off at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, kicking off the PGA TOUR Quicken Loans National. Since 2012, Brightspot has brought together individuals from a wide array of backgrounds to provide a memorable and unique experience at some of the most historic courses in the nation. Now in its fourth year, the Brightspot Pro-Am once again welcomed golfers from The First Tee, Special Olympics, and Feherty's Troops First Foundation from around the country. Read below to learn more about the inspiring stories of the Special Olympics golfers who competed in the 2015 tournament.
Brandy Bush has been competing in Special Olympics since 2005. Her target sports include basketball, volleyball, swimming, track and field, and bowling. She also competes in various sport specific training clubs, such as power lifting, floor hockey, softball, and – her favorite sport, of course, golf. When Brandy has down time, she enjoys listening to Carrie Underwood and watching movies.
Nathan Cheverton has been competing in Special Olympics since the age of 5, when he won first place at a track and field event. In the 1990s, he was selected to play on the competitive Special Olympics Unified Volleyball Team representing East Tennessee. The team competed in four consecutive National U.S. Open Volleyball Tournaments, all of which Nathan was named MVP. Nathan’s love for golf began when he was given a set of plastic golf clubs at the age of 3. He has competed in the National Special Olympics Golf Tournament on three occasions. When he is not playing golf or working, he enjoys spending time with his family and watching sports.
David Curtin has been a Special Olympics athlete since 1994. He was a silver medalist at the 2011 Special Olympics World Games in Athens, Greece, and a gold medalist at the 2010 Special Olympics National Games in Lincoln, NE. He considers Greendale Golf Course in Alexandria, VA his home course. He also competes in Special Olympics softball.
Matthew Duman has been competing in Special Olympics since 2011. He enjoys playing golf with his family, for his high school team, and for Special Olympics. Through Special Olympics, Matthew has attended putting clinics where he met professional golfers and Special Olympics Global Ambassadors. In 2013, he won a gold medal in the North America Golf Invitational at Seaview Country Club in New Jersey. Before Matthew could walk, he would crawl around with a golf club in his hands. Now he has been playing regularly for more than 10 years. In addition to golf, he also plays tennis in Special Olympics. He currently attends Camden Country College.
Matthew Klein has been competing in Special Olympics since 2010. He started golfing with his family and fell in love with the game. Matt is presently attending a special program at SUNY Geneso, and he plans on graduating in 2016. His two major life accomplishments are earning Eagle Scout in 2011 and earning his regents diploma in 2012. Matt’s favorite past times are listening to heavy metal music and playing video games, especially Tiger Woods Golf.
Tyler Lagasse has been competing in Special Olympics since 2003. He started out in basketball and track and filed, and later competed in alpine skiing and, his favorite sport, golf. He has won a gold medal in the MA state games the past nine years and a silver medal at the National Games in both Nebraska and New Jersey. Tyler has received an Associate’s Degree from the University of Massachusetts Lowell and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree. He and his mother, Deborah Lagasse, recently co-authored a book titled What Do You Say? Autism with Character.
Simon Lee has lived with his family in the United States and Korea. While living in Korea, he participated in regional and national student golf tournaments with outstanding results. Last September, he passed the national qualifying test hosted by the Korean Professional Golf Association, becoming a professional golfer. Last year, his first time competing on the national secondary – minor league – professional golf tour, he twice made the cut. Earning this prize money on his own was a very special accomplishment, and he plans on using it to help individuals with similar handicaps.
Benjamin Purick started with Special Olympics at the age of ten, competing in track and field, bowling, and downhill skiing. Ben loves Special Olympics because it gives him a chance to participate and compete in sports with his peers. His favorite sport is golf. Ben loves to sing and has participated in a local drama group for the last couple of years. He also enjoys watching movies and playing video games.
Camrin Sandoz has been competing in Special Olympics since he was 8 years old, when he started with track and field through his school. Since then, he has competed in an array of sports, including football, softball, volleyball, basketball, and equestrian. He now competes in his latest passion, golf, where he dedicates himself to practicing nearly daily at his home course. After playing for a short time, Cam tried out for his high school golf team as a junior and made the team. He now also works at his home course, where he is responsible for maintaining carts and working on the driving range.
Eric Slaugenhaupt has been playing golf as long as he could hold a golf club. His favorite place to play is Greensboro National Golf Club, with his father as his caddy. He loves Special Olympics because of the competitions and the friends that he has made. During the off-season, Eric competes in basketball and softball with Special Olympics. When he’s not on the golf course, he enjoys watching sports, playing with his dogs, listening to music, hanging out with friends, and playing video games. For the past 2 years, he has worked part time as a kennel attendant.
Bob Strunge began competing in Special Olympics in 2004, providing him the opportunity to play golf on some of the best courses in the region. After golf season, Bob enjoys participating in Special Olympics bowling and softball. He truly enjoys the friendly competition in all sports. In addition to working two part time jobs, Bob is pursuing a teaching degree in mathematics at Howard Community College.