By CHANSE WATSON
Hagadone News Network | June 3, 2022 1:00 AM
North Idaho is set to be represented next week at the Special Olympics USA Games by two Coeur d’Alene area golfers.
Special Olympics Idaho athlete Jake Kerr and partner Matthew Creighton will travel to Orlando, Fla., to join golfers from across the country to battle it out not only for a gold medal, but also for the opportunity to compete in the Berlin, Germany Special Olympics World Games in 2023.
Kerr, originally from Alaska, has been golfing for 15 years and brings with him a champion pedigree to this year’s tournament. He earned a gold medal in the 2018 Seattle games with the Idaho basketball team.
Kerr initially qualified for the national games in June of 2021, then teamed up with Creighton to play as a unified pair in the Alternate Stroke Golf category. At that time, Creighton was serving as a full-time deputy at the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, but couldn’t turn down such a tremendous offer.
“I was super excited to be asked, and I couldn’t wait for it to happen,” he said.
Creighton, now a KCSO reserve deputy, works as the Prairie Falls Golf Course manager in Post Falls.
Since the pair became an official team, they have been training rigorously at various courses around the area including Prairie Falls, Links Golf Club, and even The Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course.
In the specific category in which they are competing, the duo will alternate hitting the same ball on each hole for a combined stroke count over the course of 18 holes.
Because it’s impossible to know which of them will be up to the tee or down on the green, both Kerr and Creighton stress the importance of having a well-rounded game in order to win.
The event will take place at the Orange County National Golf Center, one of the largest in the nation.
“It’s one of the hardest courses in the United States,” Creighton said, “But we’re going to go down there, represent team Idaho, and hopefully represent team USA after that.”
For golf, over 200 athletes are expected to compete in the skills competition, individual standard and unified alternate stroke golf categories.
Including Kerr and Creighton, Special Olympics Idaho will be sending 32 athletes for six different sports this year.
In order to afford the costs associated with sending these athletes across the country, Special Olympics Idaho set a $38,000 fundraising goal. As of May 25, they were $7,000 short of the goal. One of the most prominent, recent fundraisers to raise money for the cause was the annual Guns & Hoses hockey game in Coeur d’Alene, which raked in over $10,000.
To donate or sponsor Special Olympics athletes like Kerr, visit specialolympicsidaho-bloom.kindful.com/usagames2022.
All Special Olympics USA Games will be televised on ESPN beginning June 5. To follow the action, fans can also download the USA Games app and track the progress of their favorite athletes, as well as send them notes of encouragement.