HENRICO - Depending on the way you play, you may not think of golf as a way to relax and keep your composure. But that's exactly why DJ LaMarr plays the game.
"Golf helps me out to know that I'm having fun and to not get frustrated. Because golf can be a frustrating game" LaMarr explained. "You have to learn from it and not get frustrated. If you hit a bad shot, just move on."
LaMarr is one of nearly 500 athletes representing Team USA at this year's Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. Over 7-thousand athletes from all over the globe will be taking part. The Virginia contingent includes 7 athletes, 2 coaches, 2 volunteers, 2 Final Leg torch runners and 1 unified partner which will be paired with DJ on the course during his event.
This is DJ's second trip to the World Games. Back in 2007 when he was living in Okinawa, he was asked to join the Japanese team as a bowler and had the time of his life. He has since moved to the States and took up golf four years ago. While he is excited to go, he expects this trip to be more businesslike.
"I'm expecting it to be more of a challenge this time" LaMarr said "because I'm very competitive, and I like to win."
Golf has helped DJ assimilate more into his community which is one of the overall goals of Special Olympics.
"It helps with all of those various pieces of social skills that you can transfer into the community" said Rick Jeffrey, president of Special Olympics Virginia. "They get rejected or left out or deemed 'not good enough' all the time by the limitations and judgements that we all put on each other. For them to be included in their school, their community, their business where they might work? It's huge."
"If we learn to include people with disabilities, maybe we'll learn to include everybody."
DJ hasn't yet been approached by his fellow teammates about what to expect at an event the size of the World Games, but he remembers his first experience well, and would tell them to enjoy every minute.
"I had fun my first experience" LaMarr said. "You need to try it sometime. Just go out there and have fun."