The 2014 Special Olympics USA National Games in New Jersey is this month, and there is no better spokesperson than I.K. Kim. She is an athlete who works on improving all aspects of her game. This not only include the mechanics of her grip, her swing, her drive, and her putting game, but it also includes the challenges of leadership and sportsmanship. She sees all these challenges as a platform to reach out to a broader cause as a spokesperson. So nearly 5 years ago she devoted herself to learning English with Language Training Center (LTC), official language service provider for the LPGA. She focused particularly on her English presentation skills, and LTC couldn’t be more proud of where those skills have taken her. She has also been learning French, but doesn’t plan to stop there. “What I’ve learned from LTC is to speak as close as possible from my heart. I’ve learned to welcome the challenging questions and not react but respond.”
This year’s Games boast the largest exposure yet with the largest media market in the world. Combine the Special Olympics with the talent and heart of I.K. - an athlete who epitomizes LPGA values of Leadership, Passion, Giving, and Approachability- and what you get is a perfect storm of national awareness for the impact these organizations have worldwide in providing opportunities for growth, encouragement, understanding, and respect, where both athletes and fans alike experience transformation though joy and friendship.
I.K. is headed straight from the Games in New Jersey to Pinehurst for the U.S. Women’s Open Championship. You would expect some talking points about that time honored tournament, but in a recent phone interview, she described in more detail her excitement for the Congressional Pro-Am the following week where she will get to play with some of the Special Olympic golfers.
I.K. sees her many roles as LPGA athlete, ambassador, and spokesperson as vehicles for building relationships with people and creating greater awareness of what life should be about. “I love people, friends, family, colleagues and fans. It’s all different relationships and different energy,” she says. Like most athletes in the global arena, I.K. understands that reaching out to her fans is essential. Her name has become known to people of different languages and cultures all over the world. She understands that communication is powerful, and to her, language is how we share our hearts.
When asked for her thoughts on her roles and newfound relationships, she waxes philosophical and quotes Deepak Chopra: “Be happy for no reason like a child. If you are happy for a reason, you are in trouble, because that reason can be taken from you.”