Golfers compete with Special Olympics athletes during annual tourney

Published 12:09 am Sunday, April 16, 2017

Every year when Agnes Holloway signs up for the Special Olympics Southwest Mississippi Area 7 Golf Tournament at Duncan Park, she doesn’t have to do much thinking about who she wants on her United Mississippi Bank team.

But on Saturday morning at the event’s 11th annual showing while Holloway was waiting for the other teams to show up, she got a little worried when she didn’t see her teammate of eight years — Special Olympics athlete Rosekita Johnson.

“I was going around asking everyone if she was going to be here,” Holloway said. “I look for her, and she looks for me. I walked outside and thankfully, there she was.”

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Johnson, who has Down syndrome, was a few minutes late after stopping for breakfast, something her mother Dianne said is a necessity. After the brief delay, Holloway and Johnson set out on the golf course as one of 20 teams during Saturday’s tournament.

“She’s just a part of my team,” Holloway said. “The first time they matched us, that was it. She’s a good team player and always has a smile.”

The fundraiser, Area 7’s only one of the year, helps collect money to send local Special Olympics athletes to the Mississippi Summer Games at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi.

Along with team registration, the tournament sold tickets for a raffle, sponsored a silent auction, collected sponsorships and sold 350 golf balls for a ball drop.

While Johnson said she does enjoy playing golf, she competes in other sports including bocce ball and basketball. When she travels to Biloxi this year on May 19-21, Johnson will compete in her most frequent event — swimming.

The best part of being on Holloway’s golf team, Johnson said, is the laughs.

“I like her because she’s funny and she makes me happy,” Johnson said. “It’s like my family and friends. I love it.”

Holloway said while she doesn’t necessarily try, UMB most often winds up with a certain special award.

The recognition for “Most Fun,” is given to the team with the worst score. But in her book, Holloway said she doesn’t mind coming in last place because there is no such thing as losing.

“(Johnson) gets out there and plays serious, all with having fun,” Holloway said. “We just have a good time. We do try our best, and as long as we can play, we’ll come out. Even if we can’t play, we will come out to support her in everything she does.”

To make a donation to Area 7 Special Olympics, contact committee member Ricky Warren at 601-597-4724.