By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – The weather has been perfect for the St. Richard Special Kids Golf Tournament since the tournament’s inception in 1981 and this year was no exception. On Thursday, Oct. 3 golfers, including several priests and Bishop Joseph Kopacz, teed-off for this special fundraiser, which is organized by students in St. Richard’s Special Kids program.
Golfers ranging in age from 20 to 80 years young enjoyed a game of golf, fellowship over lunch and prizes sponsored by area businesses and restaurants.
This is the largest fundraiser for the Special Kids program at St. Richard Jackson, a program that was started almost 40 years ago when Father Patrick Ferrell saw the need to provide a program designed to address the challenges of children with special needs.
No matter their faith denomination, the program works with students that have a variety of special needs and each follows an individual plan for growth and learning. The Special Kids high school program serves students 13 to 20, while the adult program serves students age 21 and over.
Several businesses, including M7 Coffeehouse, Gina Diamond’s Flower Company and The Ramey Agency, support the adult program by offering weekly opportunities to work and learn valuable skills.
“As the mom of a special needs adult, your hope is a place for your child that helps him realize his full potential and his place in the community. St. Richard does that and more. It is a second home for Will and the place that helped us realize he could do so much more than we ever imagined,” says parent Melissa Parker.
In addition to the golf tournament, the Special Kids program hosts two student art shows, where students sell ceramics, candles, icons and photography. The next at show will be held on Dec. 5 at Foley Hall at St. Richard. Funds raised from these events provide the financial aid needed to make the Special Kids program possible.
Rusty Haydel, steering committee member for the tournament and longtime supporter of the Special Kids program, said “St. Richard’s special kids are an inspiration to all of us. What ever we do for them, we get paid back tenfold. God has blessed us with our special kids.”
For more information on the program or to volunteer time and talent with students, email program director, Kim Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org.