MOUNT VERNON — Meeting local track and field athlete Geremy Kerr for the first time, one is greeted with his broad smile and his wonderful sense of humor.
“I didn’t do it!” shot back a grinning Kerr — Bart Simpson style — upon hearing his name called.
This weekend, the 24-year-old Kerr and about three dozen others will run, walk and throw as they represent Knox County in the 2012 Ohio Special Olympics to be held at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium and Coffee Road Park in Columbus.
“That will be great,” said Kerr, a left-hander, who will participate in the softball throw as well as the 100-meter walk. “Hopefully, everybody will do good. Basically, I am excited and possibly nervous.”
While the prospect of displaying their athletic gifts in front of thousands of onlookers is an exciting one, Kerr has already had his own taste of excitement. Kerr and his mother, Knox County Special Olympics Organizer Linda Kerr, were at the Ronald Reagan Center in Washington, D.C., earlier this year, when they had a chance meeting with police officers acting as torch bearers for the Special Olympics. They were just running by, carrying the lighted torch, but stopped to talk with Kerr and his mother.
“That was awesome!” said the younger Kerr. “I did not even know that I was even going to do that, until they showed up. We were walking outside and they basically appeared. I’ll never forget it.”
“They were excited to see that he was an Olympian from Ohio,” said Linda Kerr. “We just came across them.”
Four years ago, there were just seven participants from Knox County going to the Ohio Special Olympics. Word of mouth and community awareness has expanded the ranks of area athletes going to Columbus. For Linda Kerr, the challenges get bigger as the numbers of athletes and everything continue to grow.
“It’s a big challenge getting all of the providers and athletes organized,” said Linda Kerr. “We’re going to stay at the Embassy Suites in Dublin for two nights and we had to get all that planned. We had to get all their events and registration all set up. So the challenges were big this year.”
Many, like Jessica Bell, are two-sport athletes. All have practiced hard.